DEVELOPING rugby league club East Lancashire Lions are keen to join National League Two within the next three years.

The club, who are based at Darwen’s Anchor Ground, were formed in 2006 and currently play in the Conference National.

They finished a distant last in 2008 after winning just two of their 18 matches, but the Lions believe their location gives them potential for growth.

A place in National League Two - the third tier of British rugby league - would have to be achieved by election rather than promotion but, with the Rugby Football League keen to have clubs in as many areas as possible, the Lions hope performances on the field will give them a chance to move up.

Kevin Henry, who is the chairman of both East Lancashire Lions and North West Counties First Division football club Darwen, said: “We’ve got plans for the East Lancashire Lions to go into National League Two by 2010 or 2011.

“We’d need to get the ground right. It’s just about okay for North West Counties First Division but if the East Lancashire Lions were playing in the Challenge Cup against Wigan, Saints or Leeds there could be 2 or 3,000 there.

“And we’d need some success on the field. We didn’t get last season but we’re hoping that will change.

“We’ve got a march on everyone else because we’ve got our own ground. We don’t have that economic drain.

“And the interest is there because we were told by the RFL in 2006 that they had addresses of 840 people from the area on their database from the previous two years.

“And, with the East Lancashire Lions, the money we’re making is actually better than with Darwen, although it’s not big numbers.”

Henry is also continuing to explore the possibility of bringing a baseball or American football team to the Anchor Ground.