Crusaders have gone into administration, the Wrexham-based Super League club revealed today.
The club shareholders took action at the High Court of Justice in Leeds to prevent the club from being wound up by creditors, who are thought to include HM Revenue and Customs and former owner Leighton Samuel.
The club say they inherited a significant debt when they made the move from Bridgend to Wrexham a year ago which made the business untenable, but they hope to re-form and continue in Super League in 2011.
Joint administrator Peter O’Hara said: “There was a high level of support and enthusiasm towards Super League rugby in its first season in Wrexham which exceeded the club’s expectations.
“We are currently pursuing a number of options and are talking to interested parties and the RFL in the hope that a solution can be found to the club’s current difficulties which would enable it to go forward and maintain rugby league in Wales.”
The club are currently the subject of a winding-up petition brought by HMRC, which was adjourned earlier this week, while the GMB Union recently revealed they are taking action on behalf of players over alleged missing pensions payments.
In going into administration, the club will almost certainly be deducted six points if they do start the new Super League season after breaching the Rugby Football League’s insolvency regulations.
The club’s financial problems could also count against them during the next round of Super League licence applications which take place in 2011, although the League would be loathe to lose one of their expansion clubs.
Under the coaching of Brian Noble, Crusaders experienced a dramatic upturn in fortunes in north Wales, going from the wooden spoon to the play-offs in 12 months and enjoyed a significant increase in attendances from an average of 3,603 in their inaugural season at the Brewery Field to 4,616 at the Racecourse Ground.
Wales coach Iestyn Harris was this week unveiled as Noble’s successor and promptly announced the signings of his former Bradford team-mates Stuart Reardon and Paul Johnson as he began to look ahead to 2011.