Warrington status rests on stadium

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The Independent Online

Warrington believe that they have persuaded their public - if not yet their council - of the need for a new purpose-built stadium in the town.

Warrington believe that they have persuaded their public - if not yet their council - of the need for a new purpose-built stadium in the town.

Almost 1,000 supporters packed a meeting this week to see a virtual reality representation of the proposed ground. "The mood was that they were very positive about the plans," said the club's chief executive, Peter Deakin. "There is now a massive responsibility on the planning people at the council."

The proposals go up for planning permission next month and Deakin warned that turning them down would threaten Warrington's future in Super League. "If we don't get the new stadium, we won't be able to hack it at that level," he said. "Under Super League's points' assessment process, we wouldn't even qualify and clubs like Leigh would be justified in asking why we have the right to be there."

Deakin faces a second battle in persuading the club's shareholders and supporters that a joint venture with Sale - which could lead to the rugby union club's owner, Brian Kennedy, taking over the Wolves - is in the club's best interests.

Paul Davidson, the London Broncos forward, yesterday received his third ban of the season. The second-rower was given a three-match suspension and a £300 fine for kicking an opponent during his side's 27-22 loss to Wakefield on Sunday.

Warren Jowitt, the Wakefield second-row forward, was banned for one match and fined £250 after being found guilty of punching in the same match. Team-mate Willie Poching will miss the next two games after being found guilty of making a late and high tackle on Castleford's Brad Davis.

St Helens have described as "premature" the announcement from Wayne McDonald that he is leaving Hull to join them. The 6ft 7in former Wakefield Trinity forward says he is on his way to Knowsley Road, but the Saints' football manager, Eric Hughes, said yesterday: "We are definitely interested but he has not put pen to paper."

Saints have already enlisted two Australian forwards, David Fairleigh and Peter Shiels for next season. "I've spoken to our coach, Ian Millward, and the lines we are going along are to be big and strong down the middle next season," said Hughes. "That is the only way we will be able to compete."

Saints have cooled, however, on the prospect of bringing the former Widnes and Leeds prop Harvey Howard to the club next year. The 31-year-old Great Britain international has been with the Brisbane Broncos this season and is looking for a move back to this country.

Hughes, who has reached a financial settlement with Wigan almost three years after being sacked as their coach, fears that Howard's asking price has been driven too high. "Once Wigan start flashing their cheque-book, people's expectations seem to go up," he said.

With perfect timing, Howard, who has been at the Broncos' feeder club at Toowoomba for much of the season, is back in Brisbane's first team against Auckland this weekend. He returns because of an injury that could keep Australia's first-choice prop, Shane Webcke, out of this autumn's World Cup.

Warrington had also been in contact with Howard, but hope to sign his Brisbane team-mate, Kevin Campion, within the week.

Australia has asked the British government to prevent Fiji from playing in the World Cup, but the Rugby League said that it was waiting to consult both the government and the game's international federation before deciding its position.

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