Rugby League: Confidence grows in Gateshead's Super League venture

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THERE is no doubt in the minds of the prime movers that Gateshead will have a Super League side next year.

Even in a week when the state of the town's most famous sporting son, Paul Gascoigne, has made everyone wary of predictions, a team playing out of the Gateshead International Stadium in 1999 looked a solid bet yesterday.

One of Australia's leading administrators, Shane Richardson, is sufficiently confident to have left his job with Cronulla. "I am putting every bit of money I've got on the line. That's how confident I am about rugby league here," he said. "You don't get many opportunities like this in life."

Richardson said that he already has a commitment from a number of players in Australia, including some very big names, to join the club if it gets the go ahead ahead for its franchise application in August.

"But I don't want to Australianise it in the way that the London Broncos have had to," he said. "My dream would be to win the title with a team of English players.

"In the short term, we will have to bring in players and with the playing and coaching personnel we can get, I think we can be successful straight away."

Richardson's partner in the venture is Kath Hetherington, who with her husband, Gary, founded the Sheffield Eagles 14 years ago.

"Gateshead is a far more viable proposition than Sheffield," she said. "I think that Shane and I can really put Gateshead on the map.

"We are looking for investment from the North-east and also to get people from the North-east involved. I don't believe that there aren't the players available and between us, Shane and I know as much as anyone about recruiting players."

Richard conceded that, despite a healthy turnout of the region's media, column inches might be at a premium, this week of all weeks.

"I know that Paul Gascoigne not being in the England squad means everything here at the moment, but we are going to bring some new heroes to the North- east," he said.

The millionaire record producer Pete Waterman has joined the board at Salford. Waterman who launched the pop careers of Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan among others, is a friend of the club's chairman, John Wilkinson, and said that he had been looking to get involved for some time.