Rugby League: Rovers' future in doubt

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THE FUTURE of Hull Kingston Rovers is in more doubt than ever following the decision of the multi-millionaire, Paul Caddick, to pull out of a deal that could have rescued the club.

Rovers, pounds 1.3m in debt and in the hands of administrators for nearly two years, were on the point of having their New Craven Park ground taken over by Caddick, who already owns Leeds.

But he has now decided to pull out, after being told by Hull City Council that he would have to foot the pounds 400,000 bill to lift a restrictive covenant at the ground. Caddick also had long-term plans for a 20,000 all-seater stadium in the city, which would have incorporated a multi-purpose sporting academy, and would have housed Rovers, Hull City Football Club and possibly its other rugby league club, the Hull Sharks.

But those plans have also been turned down and Caddick now says that the whole scheme is dead. "Without the support of Hull City Council we are unable to proceed," he said.

The club's chairman, Barry Lilley, said that, despite the setback, it was "Business as usual. We are talking to the administrators about other avenues open to us."

Although the Rugby League had been watching Caddick's take-over bid with some concern, because of the issue of cross-ownership, a club of Rovers' stature remaining in the hands of administrators is a bigger worry. The League's chief administrator, Neil Tunnicliffe, was being briefed on the situation yesterday.

Rovers' problems overshadowed an optimistic day for their neighbours. Hull yesterday announced a new sponsorship deal with the telecommunications company, JWE, that will help to finance their ambitions in Super League next season. The club said that it had not committed itself to being part of Caddick's plans and intended to carry on alone at The Boulevard.