BOSSES at the Racecourse ground are in talks with Super League chiefs to extend the Crusaders’ rugby league franchise by another five years.

Crusaders’ chief executive Paul Retout revealed the news at a Wrexham FC fans forum last night at the Centenary Club.

He hit back at claims that rugby was now a bigger priority than football – and claimed without the rugby the football would not be able to survive.

He said: “The (football) crowds have slumped and you haven’t got enough money to pay the wages. Wrexham Village has been subsidising the football club over the last six months.

“When we acquired Crusaders we got Sky money. There are only 13 games at home – many of those across the summer. If we didn’t have the rugby we wouldn’t have any other income, so who is going to pay the bills?”

He added: “We are looking at our cost base but Dean needs a competitive squad so we have to look at driving revenue in other areas, particularly around the stadium. We are looking at a rock concert, for example.”

He added: “We are convinced that we will renew the franchise and keep it for another three to five years. We are actually discussing a five year deal at the moment with Super League.”

Fans got the chance to quiz manager Dean Saunders at length for the first time since a disappointing season ended, with the Reds finishing 11th in the Blue Square Premier.

In an honest appraisal of his performance so far as manager he admitted the season had not been good enough, but claimed he was going nowhere – and had even turned down the offer to manage Derby County last year.

He said: “Obviously where I have played I thought everybody tries, but then you realise some players are at this level for a reason.

“You’ll find that some of them are very good at one thing and not very good at lot of things.”

He went on: “You (the fans) were devastated where we finished – and I am.”

But he added: “If I left tomorrow and you put someone else in, believe me they would have the same problems.”