The board of one of the rugby league's oldest clubs have resigned following a furious backlash at plans to change names.
Supporters, backed by local councillors, reacted with fury at the proposal to change Swinton Lions to Manchester Lions.
Today the board of directors of the club, which in January celebrated the 150th anniversary of its first ever match, announced they had resigned, citing threats of violence.
The decision throws the immediate future of the club into turmoil, although the planned change of name has disappeared with the exit of the board.
Most fans still identify with Swinton even though the club played its last match there in 1992 when its ground was demolished.
It has been nomadic for the last two decades using grounds at Moor Lane in Salford, Sedgley Park's home in Whitefield, Bury FC's Gigg Lane, and the former Willows ground in Weaste.
The club currently plays its home games at Heywood Road in Sale - the home of rugby union side Sale FC.
The directors had said the name change was required to appeal to a wider audience and ensure the club's financial position with the rugby league world cup due to take place in England in 2021, mostly in cities across the north.
In a statement released on Friday, the board of directors of Swinton Lions insisted there had been as much support as opposition to the idea and accused councillors of fuelling the opposition.
They said: "We have to expect criticism and challenge. However, the behaviour of a number of fans has been appalling, including threats of violence towards board members. That does not belong in any club and is shameful."
Last week the M.E.N. reported how nine local councillors and Salford's City Mayor, Paul Dennett, had written a letter to the club's board objecting to the proposed switch.
The directors say they decided to resign after they reached out to councillors and supporters but were blanked in what they regarded as a 'vote of no confidence'.
Their statement says: "As custodians of this great club over the last two years, we are proud to have delivered financial stability and a platform for the most successful season of the last 21 years on and off the field.
"It’s been well documented of the boards intention to build a truly sustainable model that will see the Lions thrive in a time of seismic change within the sport.
"The response to the change of the playing name to Manchester Lions has been significant. There has been resounding support but, as expected, equal opposition.
"On the point of opposition, as a board, we have to expect criticism and challenge. However, the behaviour of a number of fans has been appalling, including threats of violence towards board members. That does not belong in any club and is shameful.
"Opposition was fuelled by the actions of the Mayor of Salford and councillors of Swinton and Pendlebury releasing a letter objecting to the board's plan. The board met this with an open mind, responded with (the) request for an urgent meeting, but to date had no reply.
"Following the board letter to the Swinton Lions Supporters Trust asking for its position we have, to date, not received the formal support of The Swinton Lions Supporters Trust. As such we take this as a ‘Vote of No Confidence’ in the plan and the board itself.
"Finally, it saddens all members of the board that their integrity and motives are questioned. We collectively contribute substantial time, money and resource to make this club the best it can be, for the club. Most of all for enjoyment and the family culture. This has unfortunately gone.
"Having assessed all of the above, tt is with regret that the board of directors of Swinton Lions RLFC Limited resign their position with immediate effect."
The board will ask the supporters' trust to take the club forward and have installed Stephen Wild as interim director until a new board takes over.
Coun Stuart Dickman, whose father, Colin played second row for the Lions from 1975-76, said last week: "I'm fuming. Social media is awash with the anger of the fans, 90 per cent of whom do not want this.
"There has been no real consultation with the fans. A week ago when it became known that the club were thinking of changing the name, they said they would let the fans see the reasoning behind it.
"Now it appears they have just gone ahead with it having spoken to a select number of fans - but ignoring people who have followed the club for decades.
"I have spoken to fans and friends and family of Swinton legends and they have told me tomorrow (Sunday) is the last match they will ever go to."
The club was formed in 1866 and their first recorded game was on January 2, 1869, against Lancashire Rifle Volunteers.
In the century and a half that followed, they have flirted with glory and liquidation.
A clutch of great players have included Welsh international Danny Wilson - father of Ryan Giggs.
Alan Buckley, Ken Gowers, and Albert Blan were the heroes of the back to back championship winning teams of 1963 and 1964.
In 2016 it was hoped that as early as 2019 the club could return to a stadium in Agecroft, 27 years after leaving Station Road.
The club had acquired the lease for an eight acre site and work was underway with design consultants conducting a feasibility study of options.
They had hoped to win back a generation of fans after losing them during their years ‘on the road’.
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