Rovers earn big financial boost

Rovers chief executive Pat Cluskey: "We are looking to get as high up as we can in the Middle 8s and potentially have a shot at Super League. "
Rovers chief executive Pat Cluskey: "We are looking to get as high up as we can in the Middle 8s and potentially have a shot at Super League. "

Featherstone Rovers have given themselves a major financial boost by qualifying for the Middle 8s for the first time.

Sunday’s 20-0 home victory over Bradford Bulls, which clinched fourth spot in the Championship, will earn Rovers at least £250,000 more in central funding than they received this year.

They will also keep all the gate receipts - which could be another £250,000 - from Middle 8s home fixtures against Leeds Rhinos, Hull Kingston Rovers and Leigh Centurions.

Their first game is against last season’s Super League champions Leeds at Big Fellas Stadium next Saturday (3pm kick-off). It will be shown live on Sky TV.

Rovers visit Huddersfield Giants on August 14 before hosting Championship table-toppers Leigh the following Sunday, August 21.

Featherstone have successive away fixtures at Batley Bulldogs and Salford Red Devils on September 4 and 11.

Rovers then host Hull KR on September 18, before visiting London Broncos the following Sunday in the final round.

Rovers chief executive Pat Cluskey told the Express: “It’s an exciting seven weeks ahead.

“We are looking to get as high up as we can in the Middle 8s and potentially have a shot at Super League.

“The central funding the club received this year was £200,000. We know that if we were to finish in eighth place in the Middle 8s we’d get £450,000 so that’s £250,000 more than we got this year.

“Then, we’ve probably the best three home games we could have had for crowd numbers in Leeds Rhinos, Hull KR and Leigh Centurions. We could potentially earn another £250,000 from those three matches.

“Ironically, if we had finished third we’d have had Salford and Huddersfield at home and they don’t have the numbers following them that Leeds and Hull KR do so it’s worked out well for us finishing fourth.

“The Middle 8s was the goal but those goals now get re-evaluated. While £450,000 is the minimum we’ll get, we are not sitting back and thinking we’ve reached the Middle 8s and that’s it.

“We’ve now got an opportunity to go higher and that’s what we want to do.”

Rovers were fifth in the Championship last season and the extra money they receive this time from a top-four finish will be a timely tonic after the club’s financial problems this year.

Mr Cluskey said: “Most clubs at this level are on a shoestring at times and I guess we are no different.

“However, thanks to the Board we were able to maintain things and this is a big reward not just for the players and the fans but also for the directors who made sure that when there was need to invest they have done.”