Super League's New Look

Posted on: 25 July 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Celtic Crusaders and Salford City Reds will play in a new-look Super League next season after receiving licences this week.

Celtic Crusaders and Salford City Reds have joined the 12 current Super League clubs in being handed Super League licences for the next three years.

The news means that Wales will have a team in Super League for the first time from next season. The Crusaders, based in Bridgend, are currently third in National League One.

The five teams who applied for licences and missed out are Widnes, Halifax, Leigh, Featherstone and Toulouse while existing Super League clubs, Castleford and Wakefield were thought to be most at threat of exclusion.

Licenses were awarded based on a number of criteria, including stadia, fan base and financial and playing strength.

The two successful teams will play in a new-look Super League next season in an expanded competition, which was unveiled by the Rugby Football League this week.

The licences will run until 2011, with no relegation during that period.

RFL executive chairman Richard Lewis admitted that it was tough to narrow down the seven clubs vying for the two positions.

He says, “It was a difficult decision.”

“There were 19 good applications but in the end there are going to be five disappointed clubs.”

The inclusion of Welsh side Crusaders means the RFL expands the geographical spread of Super League, one of its stated aims in its 2005-2008 strategy.

A five-man RFL panel assessed the 19 applications based on stadium facilities, finance and business performance, commercial and marketing, and playing strength, including junior player production development.

The unsuccessful clubs can reapply for 2012-2014 licences and the RFL could decide to expand the Super League again.

The RFL decided to adopt the scheme to allow clubs to develop mid to long-term development strategies that they felt were hampered by a promotion and relegation system.

Lewis went on to say it had been a historical day for rugby league in Great Britain.

“We are once again being innovative and leading the way in British sport by implementing a licensing system that will improve standards both on and off the field in the elite competition.”

“We believe licensing has already served to galvanise the sport, stimulating clubs into addressing the issues of facility improvements, spectator comfort and the production of more players.”

Licensing promotes improvement in standards across the board, according to Lewis.

“It creates stability and yet crucially keeps open the route into Super League for all aspiring clubs who can demonstrate the required standard. It is a better and fairer way of a club entering engage Super League.”

Do you agree with the RFL’s decision? Will the licensing structure improve the sport or are you a believer in promotion and relegation? What affect will the new structure have on rugby league?

Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment in the box below. Alternatively, share your thoughts in the 50connect forums.

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