KEIGHLEY Cougars have provided an extensive update on the club ahead of their return to pre-season.

The headline news is that they have been forced to increase ticket prices for the first time in five years, while they also have a marquee friendly lined up against Super League side Castleford.

CEO Ryan O'Neill revealed all to Cougars' club website, saying: "First of all, and this doesn’t come easy, but after much deliberation and financial forecasting, we need to increase our ticket pricing by £3.

"Our pricing has remained the same since 2019, without any increases at the gate.

"Last year fans enjoyed the most affordable Championship rugby league in the country at just £15 per adult.

"We can’t ignore the rise in inflation, increasing utility costs and the value of what we are putting out on the field, so it’s now time to make the difficult decision to increase the ticket prices by £3.

"Children under 16 will remain free for the 2024 season.

"This starts with our friendlies, which are all 50/50 shared gates."

"We need the club to be financially stable and plan for what lies ahead in the IMG era of rugby league and have the capital to grow the business off-field.

"We need to survive as a club and this small increase ensures we can build sustainably for the future."

Turning his attention to the playing side of things, O'Neill said: "Our aim this year on field is simple – we need to be back in the Championship system.

"This small increase (in ticket prices) allows us to forecast 24 months ahead with confidence.

"We also have friendlies planned in January against Castleford Tigers and Halifax Panthers. Further exciting details on these fixtures will be circulated shortly."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Halifax did the league double over Keighley Cougars last season, with the latter looking for revenge in pre-season now. Halifax did the league double over Keighley Cougars last season, with the latter looking for revenge in pre-season now. (Image: JT Sports Media.)

Back to the financial side of things, O'Neill said: "Now we have final confirmation on league structure, we will shortly  be able to announce our 2024 “In This Together” Season Tickets and what that looks like for fans.

"Once this is finalised we will circulate details via our usual channels.

"We will also be able to offer an extremely limited number of dining season tickets in our President's Suite on a first come first served basis, which represent incredible value.

"We’re also pleased to welcome new sponsors to the club and will shortly be able to announce some exciting partnerships with local businesses who see Keighley Cougars as a vehicle to drive awareness to the Keighley community.

"I am sure we can count on our fans and followers to support local businesses who are backing us and passing on great value."

Cougars are building a new stand too, with O'Neill saying: "In terms of progress with the stand, there are so many factors to deal with in this process.

"We are working tirelessly with the architect, builders and the council to ensure we deliver a space which offers the most value to the community, and our thinking and plans have changed on this front. 

"There are a number of meetings each week with parties involved in this project and with each meeting we are making strides towards delivering a new facility which the community so dearly deserves.

"We will shortly resubmit plans to the council and again wait for planning permission to be granted.

"We hope to have more in depth news and a further update at our Christmas Party on December 16."

Finally, he revealed: "In other news, we will shortly begin renovations on the club shop, increasing the floor space and the shopping experience for you.

"We also plan to have more stock held and a wider range of merchandise for you to enjoy seasonally.

"Our 2024 kits are now heading into production too and the plan is to have these available, in hand, before Christmas Day, with a full kit reveal and launch planned for mid-December."