FEATHERSTONE Rovers have moved quickly to bring in a new chief executive following the surprise decision of Andy Prout to stand down.
Experienced Rugby League man Stuart Sheard, who has previously been involved with Super League clubs Huddersfield Giants and Crusaders as well as Sheffield Eagles, has taken over on an interim basis and is keen to carry on the good work of his predecessor.
Sheard, 51, who lives in Church Fenton, has previous experience with Rovers having helped out behind the scenes when Danny Evans was caretaker coach following the departure of David Hobbs, but for the past year he has been working for Welsh club Crusaders.
He explained that his new club were keen to assure supporters that it would be business as usual despite Prout’s resignation and it was therefore important they had a new man at the helm quickly.
“I was asked by chairman Mark Campbell to step in, I was available and I took over on Tuesday morning,” Sheard told the Express.
“I’m full-time at the moment and it’s an open ended brief. I don’t know if it will be a permanent position yet – we’ll see how we all go. I’m looking to seeing what I can do to help the club.
“The club already has a great coaching staff and players and is looking good off the field. For me it’s about putting the structure right and building on the good work Andy Prout has done.
“I have been involved in the sport for some time and worked at Crusaders in the last year. Before that I was football manager at Huddersfield Giants for nine years.”
One of the first tasks for the new CEO will be to conclude negotiations with head coach Daryl Powell on a new contract. Talks have been ongoing for a while and more are planned.
Powell, who welcomed the appointment of Sheard, said: “We’re batting on with my contract and I will be having a chat in the next week or so.
“Obviously with Andy Prout leaving the club it’s been deflected a little bit, but I don’t see any problem with it and it should get sorted before I go on holiday at the end of the month.
“Stuart Sheard is taking over from Andy in the interim to make sure we run fluently as a club. He’s somebody I’ve been involved with in the past, years ago at Sheffield, and he’s a pretty good administrator so he’s just the type of person to take over and make sure everything’s going the right way.”
The change in CEO comes after the man who held the role for the previous three years announced he was quitting last week.
Prout explained: “It has been a hard decision to make and one that I have taken with the full support of my family. The time is right for me to explore and develop other opportunities.
“The club has come a long way in the last three years and is very much heading in the right direction and will continue to play a major role in improving the lives of people in our local and district communities, whilst dominating the Co-operative Championship.
“The stadium development project is still a priority and something that I am convinced will come to fruition and start in earnest with the support of the WMDC within the next 12 months.
“I have some great memories and hopefully made lasting friendships within the club and across Rugby League as a whole. I am very grateful for the opportunity and experience afforded to me by Featherstone Rovers, the chairman and the board of directors, who I am sure will continue to guide the club towards our Super League vision.
“We have the best coaching staff in the Co-operative Championship, if not Rugby League, and playing staff who, first and foremost are a great group of people and very good Rugby League players too!
“Finally I would like to thank all of the many supporters of the club for their continued and unwavering loyalty to Rovers and all of their help, support and kindness through what has been a difficult and somewhat traumatic year for the club. I wish everyone all the best luck for the future and hope to see you in and around the Big Fella’s Stadium.
Prout reckons he is leaving the club in good shape.
He added: “We’ve made great strides both on and off the field. I believe I’ve played my part.
“The potential is there to dominate the league in the foreseeable future.”
Rovers director Andrew McNeil said: “The club is indebted to the countless hours and huge strides and achievements made under Andy’s stewardship.
“This year and indeed recent events have been difficult for everyone associated with Featherstone Rovers and Andy has born the majority of these pressures.
“It is impossible to put into words our gratitude to Andy and his family. I’m sure whatever his next steps are in life they’ll be successful for him and we hope to see him around the Big Fellas in 2011.”