Llanelli based West Wales Raiders are to join Kingstone Press League One in 2018 after completing a takeover of the South Wales Ironmen.
The Rugby Football League approved a takeover by Andrew Thorne, the owner of West Wales Raiders RLFC, along with the board of the WRL Premier League club.
The new ownership means that the current South Wales club will move to Llanelli’s Stebonheath Park with immediate effect and will play three games in the Kingstone Press League 1 Shield at the stadium before playing there permanently from the start of the 2018 Season under the West Wales Raiders name.
The Raiders are the primary tenants of Stebonheath Park and run the bars and cafes at the stadium. The ground has a long history of Rugby League and holds the record for the largest Rugby League attendance in Wales outside of the Millennium Stadium, when over 30,000 attended a Wales v France match in 1935.
Thorne described his pleasure in agreeing a deal to take full control of the Ironmen through a statement of the West Wales Raiders Facebook page.
He said: “I am immensely pleased and proud to have agreed a deal to take over the club and I believe that it’s about time the club has a place of its own and have the ability to lay some roots.
“The current set up at West Wales Raiders has an under 13s, under 15s, and under 17s, as well as a senior squad, and our aim is to keep these running in the area, rename the community club and move them to another ground.
“We are hoping the move will generate interest on the commercial side ready for the 2018 season. This club was set up in the west, being originally based in Neath, and we hope the rugby loving fans of both codes will help us grow.”
Wales Rugby League Chief Executive Officer, Chris Thair said: “It is absolutely essential now the club has a sustained period of stability, builds for the long term and remains in the same community. Moving annually and intervals of intense support from Wales Rugby League to ensure the clubs survival is hampering both our own and the clubs progress in Wales.
“We give thanks to the RFL for approving the takeover and to the RLIF and RLEF in supporting our requests to the RFL that the club continues due to its importance to the international game and the sport in Wales. Andrew Thorne understands all of this and the fact the club already owns the social facilities in and around the ground gives us great hope for the future that our wishes for the club come true. We all wish to see a successful club.
“We would now ask all of our members, the sport as a whole and the local community to back this exciting move and get behind the club.”
Andrew Thorne and his team will become involved in the operation of the club with immediate effect, ensuring the best possible preparation for the 2018 season, something all involved are anxious to achieve.
No further comment will be made at this point. The club asks its supporters for patience while the formal requirements are completed but Mr Thorne has promised that as soon as it is appropriate he will discuss further his vision for the club.