Whitehaven's board of directors aim to deliver a consolidated Championship side for the fans in five years’ time.

They say 2019 is the first in a five-year plan to achieve that target. The directors are also aiming to make the club sustainable.

“It will be our aim to see that the first-team squad is predominantly Cumbrian, and a solid and approved youth structure has been set-up,” they said. “These are high aims but the board are willing to work long and hard to achieve these goals.”

The club’s short-term ambition is to return to the Championship at the earliest opportunity. This year was always billed as a year of consolidation and rebuilding after what happened last season.

“However, we honestly believe the new coaching staff has built a team that has the potential to earn promotion. That might be a big statement and some luck with injuries will always be a factor for any team that achieves promotion, but performances on the pitch have been encouraging,” they added as part of a response to supporters’ questions on Facebook.

“The board and coaching staff are doing their best with the funds available but more fans would mean more funds to further strengthen the squad. The board firmly believe that a predominantly local squad, playing attractive rugby has already showed signs of halting the decline in attendance. 

“Next step is to try and improve the matchday experience, which the rejuvenated JJ McKeown bar was the start of.

“Finances at the club will always be tight, and this goes for nearly all RL clubs in the current climate but our finances are much improved on last year. 

“However, they could always be improved and we are still have a long way to go to make the club a sustainable Championship side.

“The club has yet to fully cover the loss of the nuclear industry but have made big inroads into this compared with last year. The board have never stopped looking at ways of improving the facilities, as will be seen in the near future with an announcement by the club.”

Attendances should be boosted over the next two weeks. 

Haven start tomorrow against Carl Forster’s Rochdale Hornets in the Coral Challenge Cup fourth round (3pm kick-off) and follow-up against League One leaders Hunslet.