York City Knights and Jon Flatman have confirmed that a sale of the Club has taken place, with incoming Chairman Clint Goodchild taking the reins.
On his departure, Flatman said: “This club has enormous potential to be one of most successful rugby league clubs in the country. Club of the Year awards, League Winners and the highest finish in the Championship for many years alongside a return to Wembley and the growth of the ladies’ team were personal highlights from recent times alongside, the transition into the magnificent LNER Community Stadium and work alongside York St John University.
“As Chairman, I have done everything possible to drive change and improve the organisation. However, I am proud to now pass on the guardianship and ownership of the organisation to Clint Goodchild. Clint has undertaken extensive due diligence and has a growth plan for the club, a passion for the Sport and full commitment to the inclusive ethos which has grown the club considerably over the past five years.
“Clint brings a wealth of sporting and rugby league knowledge to the club, alongside a drive to succeed and take the organisation to the next level. His encyclopaedic knowledge of the game and his sports entertainment background will aid the club and the sport in future years.”
Growing up in Western Queensland, Goodchild’s fondest childhood memories were when his brother woke him up to watch Kangaroo tours in the middle of the night, igniting a lifelong love affair with rugby league.
Discussing how the takeover occurred, Goodchild said: “Over the course of eighteen months, there were various conversations and meetings with Jon Flatman, leading us to this point where I am now the custodian of the club.
“Conversations began pre-Covid around a potential opportunity to become involved with York City Knights. It was obvious to me that the Club was being run right, that the business principles and ethics were of the highest order and only a fool wouldn’t show interest in a business with those qualities.
“On the back of that, the fact that it’s rugby league aligns both my head and my heart.
“Moving halfway across the world to York, I’m doing it because there are similarities between Yorkshire and Queensland. There is a great deal of pride in being from Yorkshire and the area has a real passion for rugby league. I’m excited to find myself in the heartland of the game and I look forward to continuing the growing connection between the Club and its community.”
Over the last twenty years, Goodchild has built an international reputation of being a business management and operations expert, across multiple industries, including hospitality, events, marketing and sports management.
Further discussing the appeal of the Knights, Goodchild revealed that he was in attendance as the Knights took to the field at the national stadium and heralded the collective approach at the Club.
“You only have to look at the consistency of operations on and off-field and how those performances are translating into success. I was fortunate enough to be at Wembley last summer to watch York City Knights play in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final, the club’s first appearance there in ninety years. Seeing generations of fans showing their passion and support and having that reciprocated by the players at the end of the match was really special. It’s hard to not want to be a part of that.
“Add to that the success and growth of York City Knights Ladies, including reaching their first Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup Final, I can see them going one step further this year and I look forward to watching some of our players compete at the Rugby League World Cup later this year in York. I see this as being such an exciting and revolutionary opportunity to grow the game in Yorkshire, England and around the world.”
Paying tribute to outgoing Chairman Flatman, Goodchild said: “The dramatic improvement that the Club has seen under Jon Flatman is nothing short of astounding. Seeing the passion that Jon and his staff have for the game, it’s obvious that he has an eye for talent both on and off the field.
“The appointment of Neil Gulliver as General Manager and Director was a masterstroke and I challenge anyone to find two higher quality coaches and leaders than James Ford and Lindsay Anfield.
“I have no doubt that their influence will continue to bring positive results on all fronts.”
Flatman had led the club since late 2016 and led a turnaround which has seen the Club transformed on and off the field.
On departing, he praised all involved with the Knights for their role in recent years.
“Personally, I would like to thank staff, players, public and private club partners and especially fellow director Neil Gulliver for all of their efforts and sacrifices over the past five years. The fans of this club are magnificent, proud and wholly committed and I can't wait to sit with them on the terraces in the future.
“I would also like to wish James Ford and Lindsay Anfield all the best for the upcoming season. I believe I leave the club in a stronger position than I arrived and I believe Clint can take the club to bigger and better achievements.”
Finally, Goodchild pointed to the responsibility he feels as custodian of the Knights.
“I would be foolish to come in with an attitude of knowing everything as there is over a hundred and fifty years of history at the Club that I need to learn, and a big part of that learning process will be getting involved with the fans and community.
“I look forward to being a permanent resident of York for decades to come.
“This exciting opportunity also comes with an enormous amount of responsibility, which I take very seriously. The goals for the Club, on every front, are to make York and Yorkshire, as a whole, proud.
“This is both a pressure and a privilege.”
The change of ownership was subject to the RFL fit and proper persons test and fulfilled all obligations relating to changes to person(s) of significant control. The ownership change has received RFL board approval as required.
Goodchild will be at this afternoon’s pre-season friendly against Castleford Tigers and will be taking time to meet as many fans and partners as possible.