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Super League licence up for grabs

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George Riley George Riley | 13:30 UK time, Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Rugby Football League looks set to grant a Super League licence to at least one Championship club next spring, with a current Super League side losing out.

With confirmation that Super League will remain at 14 clubs, this means at least one top-flight side will lose their licence for the period 2012-14. The lucky Championship side will be handed a licence in March, with the remaining licences awarded in July 2011.

This news will do little to allay current concerns of fans of Castleford, Wakefield and Salford, who have as yet failed to build on the ambitious new stadium plans that helped secure their current licence. These clubs earned licences thanks largely to promises of a new stadium, which at present remain unfulfilled.

Harlequins and SalfordHarlequins and Salford are among the clubs who could be in the frame to lose their Super League licence

Wakefield and Castleford remain in limbo as they bid to push on with their own individual projects amid council calls for a more viable groundshare option. Fans of Harlequins, who continue to struggle for crowds, and Crusaders will not be resting easy either.

Salford chairman John Wilkinson is now overseeing the start of work at their new £26m stadium at Barton that has been some 10 years in the making. The club is bidding to get it finished by December 2011 in order to maximise their chances of having their licence renewed.

St Helens, in a similar position, have since appeased the game's governing body by confirming plans to play at Widnes next year while their new home is completed. I would expect this move, alongside their outstanding youth structure, to land Saints a Category A licence this time around - the top level of licence currently possessed only by Leeds, Warrington and Hull FC.

In fact, I anticipate there will be far more A licences awarded this time, which the RFL will argue proves its new system and subsequent abolition of promotion and relegation is working, creating stronger clubs and stronger, more financially-sound business models. In short, it is a system that is forcing Super League clubs to get their backsides in gear.

The timescale for awarding the next round of licences is also designed to assist the Championship. The chosen club will be told in March 2011, giving them extra preparation time for the 2012 Super League season, with the remaining applications not being considered until April and awarded in July.

Having spent the last week or so filming in Featherstone, I have seen first-hand the hunger for Super League rugby outside of the top flight. Rovers coach Daryl Powell tells me his table-toppers are unlikely to land a licence yet. Then again, if they don't reach the Grand Final this year, they will not even by eligible.

Only a Grand Final appearance or a Northern Rail Cup victory allows a Championship side to be considered under the remaining criteria. Neither Rovers, Toulouse nor Leigh have been able to boast that since losing out on the previous licence allocation.

At present, only four teams - last year's Grand Final winners Barrow, beaten finalists Halifax, plus this year's Cup winners Batley and last year's winners Widnes - are eligible for that Super League spot. Indeed, Widnes were distraught at being overlooked a couple of years ago. Then we await to see who makes this year's Grand Final.

But given the RFL's desire to inject Super League with new Championship blood, I can't help but be increasingly concerned for Wakefield and Castleford.

It is worth stressing that although stadium plans are a vital component of the licensing consideration, it is not the be all and end all. The 14 clubs granted a new Super League licence will not simply be those with the 14 best stadiums.

Keith Senior scores for LeedsLeeds and Wigan produced a sensational contest at Headingley Carnegie in last weekend's Super League games

Wakefield, however, have an additional concern. Last month, chairman Ted Richardson entered an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) with both the support of the club and the RFL. This is basically an arrangement with creditors to pay back money owed in order to stave off the threat of a winding-up order. It is in effect a stay of execution.

But despite maintaining constant dialogue with the RFL on the matter, it does present a further problem, as I understand this could now mean Richardson has no future on the Wildcats board.

RFL rules prevent any individual from holding a place on the board of a Super League club in the event they are forced into an IVA. The rule is the Super League equivalent of the Premier League's fit and proper persons test.

Richardson appealed against this ruling before an RFL tribunal on Monday in a bid to have the exemption lifted. A judgement will be made next week but his position as a Wakefield director appears untenable if he is unsuccessful. It's a far from ideal position for a club launching its bid for a new Super League licence.

To less complex matters - and two absolutely sensational heavyweight contests last weekend between Wigan and Leeds at Headingley Carnegie and Saints and Warrington at the GPW Recruitment Stadium.

Warrington's defeat by Saints perhaps outlines why some observers believe that, despite their obvious class, there may still exist some self-doubt within the Wolves side.

I don't necessarily buy that but in the big games experience is absolutely paramount. St Helens, Leeds and Wigan have that experience of success to which Warrington are still aspiring.

Finally, spare a thought for Bradford on their club record losing run. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for the beleaguered Bulls, another home defeat, this time at the hands of the resurgent Catalans.

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    What do you think Barrow's chances are of landing a Super League License?

  • Comment number 2.

    I know Wakey and Cas have ruled out sharing a stadium, but surely that's the best way forward for those two clubs? A while back, Jamie Peacock suggested having a stadium in that area as THE stadium for Challenge Cup semis, England (if only it were still GB!) internationals etc and that seemed a great idea to me.

    Not for one second suggesting that the two clubs merge, but would a groundshare be that unpalatable?

  • Comment number 3.

    As a life long Widnes fan I am praying that means we have a real shot at a licence this time. We have a fantastic stadium and now, after many years of turmoil at boardroom level and a 'jobs for the boys' mentality throughout the club, we have an excellent structure in place. I miss the heady days of the late eightites/early nineties - the walk down to Naughton park to watch the likes of Davies and Offiah light up the pitch against the best teams in the world. I can only hope and pray that if we are fortunate enought o gain a licence we can invest heavily in the team to take us to the top half of the tabel and bring the crowds back. The only downside is that it looks like it will be at the expense of one of Wakey and Cas.

  • Comment number 4.

    We should just scrap licensing and bring back promotiona dn relegation. The rfl should look at ways of directing more money to the lower leagues and aiding clubs in growing crowds (though not by shutting off a stand like for leeds-st helens). This sport came into being because people were not getting to play on the grounds of being good enough, but of social standing. We should not be telling clubs that they cannot be in super league because the ground has a crap paint job.

  • Comment number 5.

    Some fans fear that Toulouse will gain a licence but if they have yet to justify their possible intentions of gaining one of the 14 spots with a grand or cup final appearance, does this mean that they cannot submit an application?

  • Comment number 6.

    Firstly, i dont believe in licencing/franchising. I think its incredibly unfair and is killing the game at Championship level.

    To answer Ottski's question: Ive been to Barrow many times and have many friends there. They indeed have the squad (thanks to a wealthy backer) and the fans but are lacking in a lot more areas. Their reserve team has folded and the stadium not close to the standard required. Its a shame as their progress in recent years does deserve recognition.

    If the RFL do remove a team from Super League in the next round of "licences", i believe that Salford are under significant threat. The stadium is again lacking (with no sign of a new one fortcoming) and on the pitch the team have offered very little since the return to Super League in 2009. Wakefield and Cas are under threat due to their grounds, should they share one? Well, when needs must.....

    The team most likely to be promoted into Super League is probably Widnes. Despite going bankrupt in 2007 they have the fans, stadium, youth system, high level experience infrastucture and of course won the Northern Rail Cup last year. Despite not having a good 2010 season they cant be underestimated. Leigh might apply, they have the stadium and fans, but no train station. Getting there is a nightmare.

    I think Widnes, Barrow, Leigh (grand final apprearance pending), Toulouse, Halifax and a team from Paris will apply. Widnes will get the spot and Salford will drop out, keeping SL at 14 teams.

  • Comment number 7.

    If you look at the criteria i would say Cas can score quite high in 4 out of the 5 points.

    "These clubs earned licences thanks largely to promises of a new stadium, which at present remain unfulfilled"

    What total nonsense. In Cas' case they excel in other areas where other clubs do not. Look at the fact they had no external borrowings. They own their own (albeit unfashionable to some) stadium. They have produced numerous youth players and internationals. Their community work could be argued is the best in SL. You go into the details and Cas stands head and shoulders above the likes of the Crusaders, Quins, Wakey and Salford.

  • Comment number 8.

    George, in your other piece you state the minimum criteria are:

    1 Club has reached a Championship final or won the Northern Rail Cup in 2009 or 2010.

    2 Club has a stadium with an operational capacity of 10,000.

    3 No insolvency event has occurred during the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons.

    4 Club has turnover of at least £1,000,000 in financial year ending 2009 or 2010 (turnover of charitable foundation can be included in this figure).

    5 Club has an average attendance of at least 2,500 in 2009 or 2010.

    At present only four clubs, Halifax, Widnes, Barrow and Batley, meet the criteria.

    ---

    Although the four clubs meet the on-field criteria, only Widnes meet the attendance criteria, and I do wonder whether even they could generate £1m in turnover outside of the top flight (as stated by number 4). Surely by this, only Widnes will be eligible to apply? None of the other Championship clubs (apart from Toulouse's inflated figures) will exceed 2,500 average this season.

    I still expect the RFL to shaft everyone over by including Toulouse, Grand Final or not.

  • Comment number 9.

    hi jdgmedia - yes, to clarify my list of 4 clubs was looking solely at the on-field criteria - ie which sides have won the Cup or reached the GF - it is those that can then be considered under the remaining criteria, and as you point out Widnes appaear by far the standout applicant.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'd be very worried if I were in the bottom 4 or 5 places in Super League this season. Unless of course I'm Welsh or French. No matter how bad they are Super League will keep them in because of the ongoing joke that is trying making RL a nation wide & European sport. Ever since it's inception RL has been played down the M62 corridor & has never gone out of this area succesfully. And please don't say Harlequins. Ever since they were called Fulham they have been subsidised heavilly by the RL & still are today. I'm sick of saying this but when will SKY & SL realise that the game need promoting were there are fans to watch it. Help small town clubs who once competed at the highest level & their fans will flock back to their respective grouds. Invest in the heartland of RL if you want to see a strong future for our game. Not throw money across the channel or into the worlds strongest Union base, South Wales.

  • Comment number 11.

    Panic not SL clubs, Crusaders will run out of cash, giving the RFL an easy way out.

  • Comment number 12.

    Cynicalyorkie is not living up to his name. The rfl will bail crusaders out in the way they kept bailing out harlequins.

  • Comment number 13.

    That is proposterous, as surely the franchise system is based upon a set criteria, if all the clubs in SL acheive higher that the clubs outside of SL then the status quo should remain, if not then fair enough...Anyone coming in should improve the competition.

    I reckon Barrow have a shout as a Cumbrian Club, although not thoroughly Cumbria,

  • Comment number 14.

    It seems there is a lack of faith in the RFL's handling of the franchise criteria in this blog...

  • Comment number 15.

    If I were a fan of a club outside the Super League, I'd probably be annoyed with the licence system.

    However, looking at it from a more objective perspective (or at least as objective as a fan of a club safely ensconced in the SL could be), I do think the licence system is important to the future properity of our game. It allows Super League clubs the latitude to build squads over a period of time and bring through home-grown players, safe from the threat of being relegated, with the accompanying financial armageddon that relegation brings. It is the fear of being relegated that saw clubs stuff their team with journeymen overseas players and seasoned clubmen looking for a last payday - all at the expense of the introduction of players brought through the ranks.

    For too long, Rugby League stumbled from crisis to crisis without a coherent or longer-term strategy. I'm not saying all our problems are vanquished now, but the licence system coupled with the salary cap has brought a stability to the upper echelons of the sport, which I've not seen in my 26 years of being a fan.

    Yes, there is a price to pay, and it is a costly one for those clubs who, due to the cyclical nature of success in our sport, found themselves outside of the inner-circle of Super League at the wrong time. I do feel for fans of clubs whose ambitions of first promotion to, then consolidation in, the top flight have been thwarted. But the system of teams yo-yo'ing between leagues and tripping into insolvency because of chasing a dream held our sport back. It's sad but true that Rugby League simply doesn't, at this time, have the overall level of revenue to sustain more than a relatively small elite. Spreading the game's revenue too thinly damages everyone in the long run.

    My earnest hope is that, in time, the current framework will provide the foundations for the sport in general to grow. First through Super League and the national side(s), and then feeding down into a Championship that becomes more comfortable in its status as a stand-alone competition in itself, and aided by the summer Conferences which carry the game at grassroots level to places outside of our heartlands and raise our sport's profile.

    We just need vision, patience and, for many, a sense of self-sacrifice.

  • Comment number 16.


    this is hardly news, the RFL have stated this would happen on plenty of occasions - so the bbc getting a little carried away me thinks

    Crusaders are in serious financial trouble thats clear from Mr Nobles recent comments and the RFL musnt bail them out again - if they get a white knight from somewhere its Cas or Wakey to go , Salford will be ok - the manchester factor will save them

    and the new team , well if there is such a thing as justice -it has to be Widnes - the RFL treated that club appallingly last time -

    im not a vikings fan but SL will be better off with them back in it

  • Comment number 17.

    Widnes for Wakefield seen as they wont get rid of Quins

  • Comment number 18.

    This development should not really come as news to rugby league fans. Indeed, and I acknowledge I say this as a fan of one of the clubs regarded as at risk - Salford City Reds - it's typical of the RFL. NottsWarrior makes an extremely apposite point, very well said to you.

    Our game IS different, the way it came into being makes it so, and the RFL would do well to remember that. I'm not a fan of the franchise system, promotion and relegation is what it's all about; witness the battles to win promotion and avoid relegation in cricket's County Championship.

    For the record, however, work has indeed begun on Salford's new ground at Barton. Fleetwood McLaren is incorrect in saying that Salford have "offered very little since their return to Super League in 2009." Salford have defeated Saints, Leeds, and Warrington, and given Wigan, the competition's outstanding side in 2010, one of their toughest examinations this season.

  • Comment number 19.

    I feel a little uneasy at this insistence that one club will lose their licence. As a Leeds fan, I can rest easy that my club won't be one of them but is the RFL cutting its nose off to spite its face? To me, this seems nothing more than a gesture to the Championship clubs that the door remains slightly ajar.

    After all, if the weakest Super League club is still stronger than the strongest Championship club, how can we say that licensing is working? Widnes are the only club of the four mentioned who are close to meeting the primary criteria but even they only met the on-field eligibility by winning the NRC with a side stuffed full of Super League reserve players on short-term loan deals. The crowds aren't anything to write home about (and they weren't when they were last in Super League) and I don't think that the £1m turnover figure is particularly ambitious.

    I have nothing against Widnes, or any other championship club, but licensing was supposed to make Super League stronger, not weaker. All applicants should be judged on their own merits, not on the basis that one club has to be the sacrificial lamb.

  • Comment number 20.

    Cokocin - yep agree about Crusaders, and indeed about Widnes...I guess the new thing here is the timescales that have been confirmed. Most interesting point for me when I was writing it is the stuff about Richardson's hearing this week re Wakefield and how, if at all, that could affect their chances?

  • Comment number 21.

    Some people appear to be in denial about Salford's new stadium. It's fully backed by Peel Holdings, the NWDA and the council. There's a huge amount of work going on already on the site and the stadium is scheduled to be ready for the 2012 season. Look elsewhere for a club to miss out.

  • Comment number 22.

    Cockin is spot on. It will be Widnes and it is old news.
    Widnes were 'cheated' at the last licence round to suit Sky - oops sorry, the RFL, in favour of Crusaders. They were (probably)told to drop their action against the RFL on the promise that they would get a place in the next application round. This is similar to the Tigers situation when they were cheated by Wigan and the RFL in 2005 and were (probably) promised that they would get a SL place if they shut-up complaining.
    Unless they don't apply, Quins, Crusaders and Catalans will all get a place as Sky, oops the RFL, chase the dream of a Super Euro league. Forget performance against any criteria, Sky, oops the RFL, are willing to manipulate any rules to achieve 'the dream'.
    Tigers were being set-up to be the fall-guys viz a viz the Gareth Thomas debacle,but (as GeorgeR says above)I'm afraid Wildcats and their management team are not currently doing their own case any favours. Salford, (or the RFL on their behalf) will pull out the 'Manchester' trump card to save themselves. What on earth has Manchester got to do with it you may ask??? But this is Sky, oops the RFL, we are dealing with, and the argument will be (probably) they have a stronger catchment area for support - although the first 100+ years hasn't helped much!! And we know the RFL do not like two teams existing in the Wakefield / Cas area - despite the last 100 years!
    Perhaps more interesting would be the situation if the CEO's at say, Wigan, Leeds & Saints simply said to the RFL that they didn't have time to fill in the licence application forms which were a sham in any event - would they be excluded to the benefit of Feath, Barrow or HAlifax?? I wonder ??

  • Comment number 23.


    This decision is a simple wake up call. Cas, Wakey and Salford have been promising new stadia for decades - amid little evidence of actually delivering. For all that Wheldon Road is homely, Belle Vue is a dump and the Willows is worse. If this pressure makes them all get a move on for new facilities all the better. I cherish the game's Victorian heritage - but I dont want spectator facilities from the same era.

    Who to do the replacing? Well sadly, Widnes would be another move to the past. Another town with failed industries and a dull image. Although this might sound like anathema, maybe a name change to Liverpool..then at least people outside the M62 would know where the game was and might have a bit of a positive image. Maybe you were cheated...but lots of other clubs in other sports and in other times have been too, and it's time to lose the chip off the shoulder

    Barrow would be much better - expansion of SL into an area which has real RL roots and a fan base ready to tap into to see to quality rugby.

    Oh, and I don't like Sky either - but if it hadn't have been for Murdoch's money the game at the top level would be dead.

  • Comment number 24.


    swaqik

    Craven park homely as it is - isnt a 21st century stadium - they should combine with Barrow FC - for a new ground- the 2 existing ones are no more than a good drop goal apart - then come back with a 10k capacity and both could progress

    Until then poor Widnes with an all seater fully modern stadium owned and maintained by the local council who have a say on the club board - a wealthy owner who has said he's prepared to put money in , who've met the playing criteria , and the average crowd level - a good youth policy

    a huge catchment area to tap into ( yes theyve got work to do there) -

    thats the widnes case and im not being funny at all here- Put up Barrows case against that

  • Comment number 25.

    With response to MikeytheBlue regarding Salford: My general comment was that in the last two years Salford have not been close to making the top eight where as Castleford and Wakefield have. Indeed Salford have taken scalps of big teams and given Wigan a fright this year. My Sheffield side also gave Wigan a fright this year. I accept your point about a new stadium, let's hope that saves them from the dreaded chop.

    Quins and Crusaders won't be under threat due to the RFL's expansion policy, if Crusdaers are to disappear they will gave to fold PSG style. My personal opinion is that Crusaders have no place in SL. Other teams met more SL criteria but were overlooked in Celtics favour. Not withstanding the illegal players farce.

    The bottom line here is that the RFL are desperate for expansion. History has shown that it hasn't worked. I'm struggling to think of many clubs from outside the heartlands that have achieved major success in the game. Maybe we should preserve and improve what we have.

  • Comment number 26.

    Harelquins shouldn't have a licence. I'm originally from St Helens and now in live outer London and enjoy going to the Stoop to watch one or two games a season but nobody in that part of London is interested in Rugby League and never will be so it seems an injustice to keep giving them a license. It was just as much a flop when the old Broncos played at Brentford.
    The Dragons prove there is a place for Superleague in a former Rugby League hotbed and the Crusaders got a good attendance from locals in South Wales and now get a fair crowd in North Wales but South West london will never adopt to the Northern Union version of rugby.
    I'd get rid of Harlequins and get a team like Widnes back in.

  • Comment number 27.

    It is vital for the whole franchise process & RL that it seen as fair. A lot of people 'in the heartlands' have fallen out of love with the professional game due to a perception that deals have been done off the field rather than on it. It is fair to say the last franchise process didn't help that. Separating the 2 parts ie the championship team coming up & the SL team to go down by several months is a sound idea & will hopefully prevent at risk SL clubs spending the next 6 months dissing the better placed championship bids & instead focus on getting their own case in order. The RL can then spend some time promoting the success of the to-be-promoted team in following the blueprint they, the RFL, laid down.

    I think at present, Widnes have to be the overwhelming favourites because they have gone & done what the RFL asked of them last time & undoubtedly have an outstanding youth set up which will lay a strong foundation for a 2012 SL squad. Steve O'Connor is a chairman worthy of gracing the top flight.

    It's a shame that a club has to go & there isn't a nailed on team to go down - you could make a good case for all the names in the frame to go and to stay.

    As I said if it's fair & transparent, hopefully the club who goes will be able to rebuild in a very competitive & entertaining championship & come back stronger the next time. It's not the end of the world to play in a very good league with some of the best clubs in RL history turning out each week.

  • Comment number 28.

    As a Bulls fan I am very glad that the franchise system is in place as I fear we would be relegated this year if it wasn't there! That said, if there was the chance of that maybe we would be winning a few games by now as it seems to me that the safety net of knowing there's next season is all too easy.

  • Comment number 29.

    More deluded nonsense from fans of the less successful Super league sides.

    This is sport not a business plan contest, if you can't get the job done on the field then you should be relegated, simple as.

  • Comment number 30.

    wire/saints was at the hj!
    also, what 'big game' success have wigan had over the last decade compared to warrington?

  • Comment number 31.

    Bring back promotion & relegation. One up, one down. Every year. Works in other sports.

    No point keeping clubs that lose money, Quins & Crusaders.

    Widnes of the late eighties were one of the main reasons I started watching League over Rugby. Super team. Always on Grandstand playing Wigan. Great.

    A 12 team comp would better suit Super League...

  • Comment number 32.

    The NRL could add another team in Queensland, one on the Central Coast (Gosford) & maybe dabble with Adelaide & Perth again.

    But Super League would be better playing in a stronger tighter comp...

  • Comment number 33.

    the_chief15 (29)
    If you meant this is a sport and not a business contest and you believe the lowest club should get relegated, then I'm with you. But I'm afraid you're deluded if you think that the licence's will be granted on that basis.

    Unfortunately, the RFL is now a business and the RFL (SKY) are promoting a BRAND (how I hate the connotations of that word).So we are no different to the Premier League regarding morals and ethics, just a lot less significant.

    sm67 wrote (27):
    "It is vital for the whole franchise process & RL that it seen as fair".

    I'm sorry but this will never be the case - just look at the last disgrace. We have so far been told only a small element of the full application criteria which are likely to be manipulated to meet the desire of expansion and favour the likes of Crusaders, Quins and Catalans. Whilst ever the RFL (SKY) have final discretion over any decision without appeal any award of a licence will be at the whim of a view individuals with their own individual goals. Dictatorship springs to mind.
    One further point. As any of the bottom 8 clubs (ex the chosen 3) are now fighting for their existence in only the second year of the franchise, how has that brought stability and the chance to develop. Just look at Salford who are now spending through the nose on players (as Hull KR did and are £3.5m in debt by the way )to get a decent team for the final franchise year. Where did that money coming from - certainly not from the stable commercial activities of either club. HullKR were also given a franchise on the agreement that they would improve their ground - which is a disgrace -, but we don't hear any bad press about them. But would you fancy telling John Prescott his beloved club won't get a licence ??


  • Comment number 34.

    RLFans58 wrote: "Just look at Salford who are now spending through the nose on players (as Hull KR did and are £3.5m in debt by the way )to get a decent team for the final franchise year. Where did that money coming from - certainly not from the stable commercial activities of either club. HullKR were also given a franchise on the agreement that they would improve their ground - which is a disgrace -, but we don't hear any bad press about them. But would you fancy telling John Prescott his beloved club won't get a licence ??"

    Where has £3.5m debt come from - have you been reading 606 again? Ohh dear...

    I can't argue that our ground is poor -it is- but there are plans afoot to improve it. As I go to Craven Park every other week I can see the little changes. Hopefully, soon, there will be big changes.

  • Comment number 35.

    You mat well think new craven park is a disgrace, But it has improved since we joined SL.
    Ok, its not the crumbling wreck that headingley is, nor the shiny bright KC across the river, but its not that old and is getting better season on season.
    Leeds may well get the attendances, but the ground (one stand apart) is falling to bits as the owners spend all they can on the cricket side.
    We dont get bad press, because there is nothing bad enough to report.

  • Comment number 36.

    If efficacy of the bar staff was one of the criteria, then Harlequins really would be up the creek.

  • Comment number 37.

    Rovers Return..HKR AWAY DAYS wrote: Where has £3.5m debt come from - have you been reading 606 again? Ohh dear..

    Try below and do a google if you want more
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/super_league/hull_kr/8417462.stm
    ..and that was without last and this season. 8,000 gates are great but they don't pay those debts. But I do say good for you. As a supporter at least you see the benefit on the field. Behind the scenes....??? Don't worry though, HKR are not on the hit list and aren't in the RFL's sights.

    andie99uk wrote:"You may well think new craven park is a disgrace, But it has improved since we joined SL."

    To be fair, all the other clubs threatened will say they've improved their grounds too, but in their case the RFL would claim they are just papering over the cracks - as are HKR??? Two years in and it still is a disgrace with a lot of hollow promises - sounds like Salford, Tigers, Wildcats and even Saints, but would the latter get the boot??

    The only thing I would ask for is a transparent level playing field where you get a point for ticking a box in the application criteria. Tick more than the others and you're in. That would sound fair to most people. But unfortunately as we all know, that is not the case and we are dealing instead with the over inflated egos and ambitions of a small number of individuals. The RFL appear to be effectively stating: "We, the RFL, will make the decision as we seem fit, and you, the Clubs, will have no say in it or any right of appeal. Disagree with us at your peril, because we have long memories." Does that sound like a modern, enlightened establishment.

  • Comment number 38.

    As a life long Wakefield Fan I recognise how as a club we fall short of the ideal, but I would like to mention:

    Do we bring 50 fans to away games - Answer No!!!
    Have we moved 150 mile to locate to a new Home after the first season - Answer No!!!

    Do we fold and them rename ourselves leaving the debt behind - Answer No!!!

    Have over the years we developed a great youth policy - Answer Yes!!!

    Even taking into consideration all the above we always seem to be the first in line for the chop!!!!

    We know we have a terrible ground but we are striving to improve this situation.

    Give the super league a chance and stick to the strengths of this great game which lie in the Yorkshire,Lancashire,Cheshire and Cumbria Area and stop trying to make our great game into something it will never be.

    Sorry about the moan but it's hard enough being a Wakefield Fan without all the speculation.

  • Comment number 39.

    The best example i can give is the other week when trying to pursuade a friend to come along to an Eagles match. I explained the rules and they seemed interested, until the conversation ended with "So you win your league, but DONT get promoted? What kind of stupid game is that?".

  • Comment number 40.

    I think super league status should be given purely on playing strength and club finances to be honest. It will be a shame to lose any of the teams in super league at the minute because i dont think any team for the championship except maybe widnes could compete over a regular season in super league. As a Cas fan, i would be appalled to see us demoted. Yes the jungle is old, but still offers one of the best atmospheres in the league, and our playing strength is getting better. As well as having no debt and a solid youth structure to bring youngsters through. But the RFL seem to have a thing about gettin rid of either cas or wakey so i expect one of them to go!

  • Comment number 41.

    George - you mention Mr Richardson at wakefield but fail to mention the goings on at Crusaders regarding the guy that ran Wrexham village and the football team that has had to relenquish these posts due to an ongoing investigation, but can remain in charge at Crusaders - so hardly a "fit and proper" test

  • Comment number 42.

    As a fan of a lower league club, I still think the franchise system is a good one. It forces clubs to raise ground standards and youth development. Too many clubs skimp on everything to get good players only fuelling player wage inflation. I think Wakefield look likely to go down and Widnes to go up on the criteria set by the Super League.

    As a non heartlands fan, I think thats a shame because we need to expand the games appeal. Unfortunately, none of the Championship or Championship 1 clubs from outside the heartlands are cutting the mustard just now according to the criteria. The disastrous moves ten years ago that saw Sheffield and Gateshead scrapped through merger are still causing damage.

    I would really like to see a West Cumbrian side get into the Super League but having gone to Barrow last season their ground is pre-war in parts! I did notice that Barrow has a football ground over the road and neither was in great nick. It seems like madness for a small town like this to have two competing grounds. If clubs like this are serious about Super League they have to make some bold decisions.

  • Comment number 43.

    Barrow Raiders & Barrow AFC should have been ground sharing years ago.

  • Comment number 44.

    George, on a matter unrelated to the licensing saga, i've been reading the latest rugby league world, and there is mention of a rugby league night on BBC4 in late september/early october time. Any truth in this?

  • Comment number 45.

    Needs I say more:

    Crusaders v Harlequins 06/08/10 Attendence 1,122.

  • Comment number 46.

    At 8:06pm on 06 Aug 2010, wakewild wrote:
    Needs I say more:

    Crusaders v Harlequins 06/08/10 Attendence 1,122

    I have wondered about their crowds after Sundays Fiasco both on and off the park when 500 travelling reds managed to create problems at the ticket office 40 minute queues and a broken ticket machine and a crowd of 2412.

  • Comment number 47.

    weby72 is spot on. Licensing has been brilliant for RL and the RFL should be commended for moving with the times. A lack of competition is slowly killing football, whereas Super League gets more competitive and evenly matched every year.

    This won't be popular but I've always said Cas and Wakey need to merge. There's too much of a log jam in West Yorks and an amalgamated side would be a much bigger force and free up a vital licence. Cas with their bigger gates should call the shots as to how it works or get the nod if it's an either/or.

    I think there's room in SL for 16 clubs. I'd lose 1 of Cas and Wakey and bring in Widnes, a Cumbria side (ideally an entirely new team rather than picking 1 of Barrow, Workington & Whitehaven) and look seriously at a Scottish side, probably the rugby-mad Edinburgh.

  • Comment number 48.

    Is there any chance of the BBC putting the "red button" debate about licensing which was broadcast today on BBC2 after the Warrington v Les Catalans game on the I Player?

  • Comment number 49.

    It` a stitch-up. The whole idea of the franchise system is to get the best 14 clubs in Super League. For the RL to state now that a Championship side will be elected is pre-judging the issue. How do they know that the Championship side will have better criteria than the existing 14 SL teams. They have already made the decision and they could actually let everyone know now. It is a complete waste of time for the clubs to submit franchises as the decision must have already been made if the RL can state now that a Championship side will be admitted into SL. I repeat how do they know in advance?

  • Comment number 50.

    Despite these great forums, they do go quiet after a few days. Following the RFL announcement at yesterdays semi, perhaps a new thread is needed. Over to you George and I agree with yorkstu in 49.
    The franchise process is a sham and is merely a means for the RFL to decide who should be relegated and promoted. The problem is that none of the clubs dare criticize the process because they know who will be next !!!

  • Comment number 51.

    The franchise process is a sham and is merely a means for the RFL to decide who should be relegated and promoted. The problem is that none of the clubs dare criticize the process because they know who will be next !!!
    .........................................................................
    Spot on. The franchise system goes against the ethos of all British sport i.e. that achievement is rewarded. The word on the street is that Widnes, despite there poor league form in the past two seasons, will win a franchise at the expense of one of either Cas or Wakefield.
    Dead_Shot_Keen shows a lack of any understanding of the history and community basis of the game by championng a merger between Wakefield and Cas.
    IMO, at present there are only two sides who should be considered for super league and that is Barrow and Halifax. The two contested the Grand Final last time and are well in the hunt again this time. Barrow would inevetably fail on ground criteria, but have a good case if that were to be addressed. Halifax have a cast iron case with a good stadium, solid finances and a competetive team.
    In conclusion then - Widnes will be handed a franchise because the RFL want to.
    As a life long supporter of league I am now so disillusioned with the appauling management of our great game that I have taken to watching football - at lesat that sport is still based on merit.

  • Comment number 52.

    Is the franchise all about the ground. The Castleford area is the best in the country for producing rugby players ask Leeds Bradford and the 2 Hull clubs plus numerous national league sides. Also it as a good relationship with the community. It as also good with its finances never spending what it does not have on players preferring to bring its own through, unlike other clubs not too far away from us. The work done by Castleford in the schools pays dividends with the 2 Castleford high schools always having a presence in both the girls and boys carnegie schools finals in London.Attendance per population is also excellent. On the playing side a top eight finish last season and pushing for one this season despite a horrendous injury list this time out.All that is lacking is a stadium which would have been built it we did not have a recession art the crucial time. Outline plans are passed detailed plans going in shortly. The Castleford people live and breathe Rugby League, would the RFL sacrifice Castleford at the expense of Crusaders or Harlequins.

  • Comment number 53.

    Whilst on the stadium. It was Wakefield that ruled out a shared stadium. Castleford were willing to go to a consultant to find the best site for the stadium to be built. Wakefield were confident it would be at Glasshoughton that is why they pulled out of the feasibility study.By doing this Wakefield have put both clubs at risk.

  • Comment number 54.

    John Hughes wrote in 52 and 53.
    You are obviously correct in all you say.

    But this means little to the RFL or SKY. The way the licence application has been manipulated ensures that the RFL can use its 'discretion' to achieve any result it wishes. And as they have an obsession with expansion at all cost and have clearly made it their view that they consider there should not be SL clubs at Wakefield and Castleford, there intention to get rid of one or both clubs is obvious.

    In fact you could argue that the way your club Castleford are being singled out for unreasonable fines, that Tigers are effectively funding the continued existence of Crusaders and Quins.

    The problem is of course, that those clubs that are 'safe' - and why should Bulls or HKR fall into that category you may ask - really couldn't give a damn as long as it's NIMBY ! The whole process is a waste of time and a disgrace. Do you really believe that the RFL will even read the applications of the current top 7, plus Bulls, plus the chosen 3??

    And whilst I feel for Widnes being overlooked for Crusaders at the last award, have they really earned their place over the last two years? They were told by the RFL at the last awards to stop complaining on the basis they would be awarded a place this time around. Much the same as Tigers were promised a SL in place in 2009 if they dropped their action following Wigan's salary cap cheating in 2005 which resulted in their subsequent relegation.

  • Comment number 55.

    This is a great blog and one that has really got me thinking. Most people are in agreement that certain clubs are safe, Wigan, Saints, Leeds, Warrington, Bradford(regardless of how badly they do), Hull FC, Hull KR, Huddersfield and of course the 3 add ons. That leaves Wakey, Cas and Salford to fight it out every 3yrs. Clubs can not survive like this, 3yrs in the S/L and then 3yrs in the Championship. Cas and Salford have both proven the you can bounce back from relegation as the lure of doing at the first attempt is very appealing. Clubs do not have incentive now - look at Widnes. Scrap these licences and allow clubs to suffer relegation and enjoy promotion. Looks like poor old Featherston wont get to enjoy promotion, regardless on how they do, this is just not right. Everyone in football in talking about Blackpool in the premiership, we wont get this fairytale story!

    As post #52 commented the school game is very strong in Cas, this is the same in Wakey, Normanton, Dewsbury and Batley - all in the Wakey district. Wakey and Cas do a lot for their local communities and both should stay in S/L. I am all about expansion but it should be done for the right reasons, S/L + SKY should stop trying to kill off great tradtional clubs up here to create new clubs elsewhere.

  • Comment number 56.

    Whilst I understand the practicalities of having a franchised top league, I don't think it can ever really create a fully competitive national game for Rugby League.

    In my opinion I think SL should be two-tiered. Have two leagues of 12 with relegation/promotion between the two. I think this way it allows for the expansion of the game by supporting franchises in London, Wales, etc. (ie. those outside the traditional RL areas) whilst also giving heartland clubs outside SL to compete at the top level.

    I believe this will allow 'new' clubs, for example Crusaders when they joined SL two years ago, a chance prove their worth and justify their position in a SL system without it being at the expense of a traditional heartland club, such as Widnes etc.

    I believe expansion is important and will benefit the game immensely, as a midlander by origin I'm gutted that I wasn't introduced to the great game earlier, however alienating fans from long-established clubs won't help the cause.

    In regards to the practicalities of having two 'Super Leagues' I think if you took the play-offs back to 6 clubs at the top and then perhaps have a relegation/promotion play-off between the top 2/3 of the second tier and the bottom 2/3 of the top tier it would mean more clubs had something to play for, whilst maintaining the standard of the top flight. I.e. if a top team in the second tier was not good enough to beat a bottom team in the top tier then they should not be promoted. I think this system would also remove the possibility of having a three year exile from the top-flight as the club who may get relegated has the immediate chance to return the following season.

  • Comment number 57.

    i think cas or wakey down. leigh or widnes up. featherstone havnt got the ground or money. and there not good at all

  • Comment number 58.

    All of those unhappy with the Super League, start by handing back your Sky Sports boxes. No, of course you can't. Ok - keep paying for a substandard product and pretend it's as good as it used to be, whilst executives make glossy brochures and lots of cash. The irony of the Super League is that it is restricting the breadth of the game, whilst Union dominates like it never has before.

  • Comment number 59.

    Who was surprised when the original 14 SL clubs were declared? No one.
    Who will be surpised when Widnes replace Wakefield? No one.

    Quins, Crusaders and Catalans are all candidates for the chop and for good reason. Castleford and Salford may be sweating but don't, Wakefield to go.
    Halifax, Leigh, Featherstone, Barrow, whoever dont waste your time filling in those forms. Widnes are home and dry.

    FIXED BY SKY

 

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