Keighley Cougars have tonight announced the shock news that they have parted company with head coach Craig Lingard.

Lingard had been in his third season at the Keighley helm following a troubled winter during which players and staff had gone unpaid under previous owners.

The off-field turmoil resulted in a 12-point deduction but Cougars have enjoyed a fine start to this season and are just one point away from wiping out that penalty after only eight games.

A statement on the club's Facebook page read: "Keighley Cougars this evening have announced that they have parted company with head coach Craig Lingard.

"The club felt that it was unable to offer him a further extension to his contract, feeling that the time had come to look elsewhere in order to take the club forward.

"The club is very grateful for Craig’s contribution, often in very difficult circumstances, and he will remain a very popular figure at the club.

"Chairman Mick O’Neill described Craig as a true gentleman and said it was one of the hardest decisions he has had to make.

"A successor will be appointed in due course but in the interim, assistant coach Rhys Lovegrove and head of strength and conditioning Paul Royston will take charge of first team matters, overseen by Gary Moorby as head of rugby."