Toronto Wolfpack: Decision on Super League future of Canadian team delayed

Leeds' Mikolaj Oledzki is tackled by Toronto's Jon Wilkin and Gadwin Springer
Toronto lost to Leeds in their last game in March - but their results were expunged when they withdrew from Super League

Super League clubs have deferred a decision on Toronto Wolfpack's future.

The Canadian team withdrew from the 2020 season in July because of the "overwhelming financial challenges" posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

A bid for the team to come back into the league could have been rejected on Friday, but the clubs opted to allow Toronto businessman Carlo LiVolsi four weeks to present more details.

Their absence means there will be no relegation from Super League this year.

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone said: "From the outset, the Super League Board have said consistently that it will provide Toronto Wolfpack with every chance to present the best possible case for a place in the competition next season.

"That process has to be thorough, fair and equitable and today's decision is a further demonstration of our commitment to ensuring that.

"There were many areas of Wolfpack's submission to date that required greater clarity and our clubs felt it was important to hear from Mr LiVolsi himself before making an informed, objective decision on the club's future involvement.

"They also believed it to be important that an objective re-assessment should be completed of the value and viability of the growth of rugby league into the North American market to help advise the board decision on Toronto."

Toronto had been playing in English rugby league's top flight for the first time after winning promotion from the Championship in just their third season.

But they were bottom of the table when the season was suspended in March, having lost all their opening six games.

'I'm sure they will be satisfied'

The Wolfpack said at the time of their withdrawal that they fully intend to field a team in the 2021 season.

Head coach Brian McDermott said earlier this month that he hoped "a brave and compassionate decision" could be made to allow the club back into the top flight.

Their application went before a virtual meeting of the Super League board, which largely comprises owners or chief executives of the other 11 clubs following the breakaway from the Rugby Football League in 2018.

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington, who is a supporter of the expansion into North America, said it was "sensible" to give Toronto more time to put their case.

"It gives both Toronto Wolfpack and the Super League and RFL executives time to work through things properly and it also gives some hope to those Toronto players and staff that they might get paid this year," said Hetherington.

Asked if the delay increases the chances of Toronto's re-admission, Hetherington added: "You would think so; I'm sure they will be satisfied with the decision."

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