KEIGHLEY Cougars has issued a rallying call to the public after revealing it's come "within hours" of going out of existence.

Bosses say that as of yesterday, after players' contract payments had been met, the historic club's bank balance stood at just £34.23.

Now they are appealing for the town to get behind the Lawkholme outfit to save it from extinction.

And their plea is backed by Keighley MP John Grogan, who said: "Keighley without the Cougars is unimaginable. It must be all hands to the pump to prevent this happening."

In a joint statement, Cougars chief executive Neil Cullen and commercial director Simon Harrison say an investment of about £45,000 is needed to see the club through the rest of this season.

"We recently came within hours of going out of existence," they state.

"This would have meant Keighley rugby league, a staple of the community for 117 years and a place that has brought so much joy to those who have been involved with our great club, would have been consigned to nothing more than memory and the history book.

"The borough of Keighley has a population of over 90,000 people and our average attendances are in the 600 region, meaning that only seven per cent of our community supports the club on a regular basis.

"As of June 29, after paying players' contract payments, the club bank balance currently stands at a sum of £34.23.

"This means as an estimate, in order to see out the 2018 season, we would be looking at investment within the region of £45,000.

"This can come as a direct result of investors wanting to invest in the club.

"But more importantly, if our remaining five home fixtures all had an extra 400 people through the gates at Cougar Park, then professional rugby league in Keighley would be guaranteed.

"As the two remaining directors of Keighley Cougars we will not abandon the club in its hour of need, and have continued to work hard – behind the scenes, amongst ourselves and also with our sponsors – to raise funds and continue to pay the wages of our players, coaching staff and backroom team."

They add that the first team squad has been offered a new payment plan of contracts.

"This allows ourselves as directors the opportunity to raise funds and pay all monies owed accordingly and more importantly on time and in full," they added.

"This new payment plan will not suit everybody and this means we are unfortunately in a position where we have to announce the reason Matty Beharrell and Josh Tonks are unavailable for selection tomorrow is that they have decided to accept offers elsewhere in order to secure their financial status.

"As a club, we would like to thank Matty and Josh for their commitment over the last 18 months and wish them well in their future endeavours.

"There is no malice in their decisions whatsoever and we would like to inform supporters that this is solely down to their personal situations.

"Our head coach Craig Lingard will continue to have our support throughout this tough time, as he has since his appointment, and we are grateful that Linners and his backroom staff of Nathan Graham, Paul Royston, Rikki Sheriffe, Frank Levy, Scott Lindsey, James Feather, Liam Bowness, Jeremy Crowther and Joshua Chapman have continued to work hard in preparation for tomorrow's trip to Whitehaven.

"We are confident should the team perform to the high standards we know it is capable of, we will finish in the top five of Betfred League One and earn the opportunity to challenge for promotion to the championship."

But the directors warn that in order for this to happen, immediate financial investment is needed.

"The club is part of our town's heritage, identity and legacy," they add.

"Some people don't realise that to diehard supporters, such as our own, clubs like the Keighley Cougars are more important than the result of a game or a league position – an example of this being the loyal band of volunteers who work hard three times a week, helping clean, repair and maintain the general upkeep of both our great club and our historic home at Cougar Park.

"As our friends at Barrow said in a similar statement, clubs like ours are about heritage, culture and the blood, sweat and tears of a great community.

"The Cougars is part of an identity and heritage we need in our local community but we also know we have a community of Cougars supporters living elsewhere in the United Kingdom and all over the world and we hope these supporters will continue to support us and get behind the club.

"The Rugby Football League has now made it clear to clubs such as ourselves, Barrow and Whitehaven that there is no longer a pot of money available to save these community clubs and although it will support with advice and professional administration, it is looking for a return on investment for all clubs in the professional game.

"As a club we need to bear in mind that from 2021 the Super League will be taking over rugby league and the proposal is that there will be 20/24 clubs forming a Super League and a Super League 2, with those not involved being moved to the National Conference League as an amateur club.

"We need to act now to make sure the Keighley Cougars can be part of the new structure in 2021 and continue as a professional sports organisation within the borough of Keighley.

"If we lose Keighley Cougars, the chances are we will never get it back as a professional rugby league club."

Keighley's rugby league club joined the Northern Union in 1900 and its first 'proper' game was in September that year, when 2,000 spectators saw the team beat Sowerby Bridge 5-0.

High points for the club over the years have included a first visit to Wembley in 1937, for the Challenge Cup final against Widnes.

The club became the Keighley Cougars in 1991 and won the old second division title in 1994-95, but was denied its place in the top flight when a restructuring saw the creation of Super League.

Anyone wanting to get involved in the campaign is asked to e-mail, go to or call Garry Schofield at the club on 01535 606044.