Keighley Cougars: Club out of special measures but deducted 12 points for new season

Keighley Cougars celebrate
Keighley Cougars finished ninth in League One last season

Keighley Cougars have been taken out of special measures following the completion of a takeover deal led by former chairman Mick O'Neill.

But the League One club will have to start the new season with a 12-point deduction as part of the Rugby Football League Board's approval.

Cougars were placed in special measures for failing to pay players' wages.

"When you see the demise of a great club, I knew I had to come and help it out," O'Neill told BBC Radio Leeds.

Cougars's previous majority shareholders were Austria Holdings, who relinquished control in December after just two months.

Unpaid wages for both players and staff were settled in the same month and coach Craig Lingard agreed to return to the job he previously resigned in protest back in November.

O'Neill, who was previously owner in the 1990s, felt compelled to act while following events from Australia.

"It's absolutely shocking," he said. "To get a person coming into a club who doesn't even like rugby league, doesn't know the first thing about it, I've had grown men crying on my shoulder.

"I couldn't let this happen. It's going to be a board of wonderful directors with great ideas and hopefully we can put them into practice."

As well as competing in League One, Cougars will also enter the Challenge Cup and the new 1895 Cup as well as continuing to play at Cougar Park.

They will also be free to sign players before the new season, which starts against Whitehaven on 17 February.

"We hope the news, securing the future of a club which was formed in 1876 and joined the Northern Union in 1900, will be welcomed throughout the game," RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said.

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