KEIGHLEY Cougars have confirmed the club will not be competing in the 125th anniversary competition proposed to be played this autumn by the Rugby Football League, choosing instead to look ahead to the 2021 season.

Following a board meeting held over the weekend after Friday’s meeting between Championship and League One clubs, they decided that the competition, despite the best intentions of the governing body, would not be viable for the club to enter.

The club said: "We as a board have a duty of care to all those with interests in the Keighley Cougars, from the sponsors to the players, coaches and supporters.

"Given that the players have not trained or played since March, and the significant increase in injuries displayed in the NRL since their restart in May, we felt it would not be beneficial to the squad as part-time players to put their wellbeing at risk.

"The club also feels that with the proposed competition being played either behind closed doors, or in front of partial crowds due to social distancing, it would not be financially viable given the running costs associated such as weekly COVID-19 testing, un-furloughing players and match day costs.

"While we understand that those associated with the club will be disappointed by this decision, we also do not wish to put the club at risk or disrupt the plans currently being put in place for the 2021 season by head coach Rhys Lovegrove and his coaching staff.

"Rhys is actively retaining members of the current squad and recruiting new signings as he looks to strengthen the squad further in order to push for promotion from League One next season and as a club, we want to give the boys the best possible chance to achieve our goals next year."

Chairman Mick O’Neill said of the decision: "Our focus now has to be on the upcoming 2021 season and our campaign to get promoted to the Championship.

"We have a strong base in which to build on both on and off the field and we are now going full steam ahead to make sure we bash through League One in 2021."