Rugby League: Leigh's hopes dashed

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LEIGH'S hopes of securing their future at the ground where they have played for 47 years have been dashed. The club learned yesterday that a pounds 300,000 bid for Hilton Park by their director and sponsor, Bill Parkinson, had been turned down.

'We were hoping it would be celebration time, but it was not to be,' said Leigh's general manager, John Stringer. 'We are all right until 28 May, but we are in major difficulties for next season.'

Leigh hoped that the offer, which is above the ground's current valuation, would be accepted by the administrators on behalf of the club's former director and secured creditor, Keith Bell.

'But they say that they have genuine interest from other parties who want to develop the site. I wonder how genuine that interest is,' said Stringer.

Leigh have spoken to a firm of builders from Sheffield who have offered to re-house the club if they can get planning permission for the site, but the fear is that one of the founder members of the Rugby League could be without a home next season.

The St Helens stand-off, Tea Ropati, is the leader at the halfway stage in the voting for the Stones Bitter First Division Player of the Year. The poll, by opposition players, is recognition of Ropati's influence in Saints' challenge to Wigan for the Championship. The Silk Cut Challenge Cup tie between the two clubs has been confirmed as the televised match on 13 February.

Following Ropati in the voting are Phil Clarke, of Wigan, Mike Ford, of Castleford and, despite missing a number of games through injury, Bradford's Deryck Fox.

The Huddersfield scrum-half, Neil Flanagan, is the leader in the Second Division. Among Third Division players, Workington's Brad Hepi is in the lead.