Super League is to remain as the First Utility Super League and the Championship will still be called the Kingstone Press Championship
The 3 x 8s phase of the season will be known as the Super 8s. With the top 8 from Super League to remain the First Utility Super League, the middle 8 (bottom 4 of SL & top 4 of Champ) to be called The Qualifiers and the bottom 8 of Championship to play in the Kingstone Press Championship Shield.
The Play-Offs will then be at the end of the season and made up of:
Super League (top 4) – First Utility Super League Play-Off Semi-Finals and Grand Final
The Qualifiers (4 v 5) – The Million Pound Game
Championship Shield (top 4) – Kingstone Press Championship Shield Semi-Finals and Final
League 1 (top 5) – Kingstone Press League 1 Promotion Final, Play-Off Semi-Finals and Final
How will the new competitions work for Super League and the Championship?
The 12 Super League clubs play each other twice, home and away, during the regular season (22 fixtures) plus one fixture at Magic Weekend. The 12 Championship clubs will also play 23 matches, home and away plus one fixture at the Summer Bash.
After playing 23 fixtures, the 24 Super League and Championship clubs will split into three groups – the Super 8s – based on league positions. The top eight will continue as Super League, the middle eight will be the Qualifiers and the third eight will be the Championship Shield.
How will the Super 8s work?
Clubs will each play seven fixtures on a league basis.
Clubs which have performed strongest in their respective competitions in the regular season will be rewarded with four fixtures as follows: the top four Super League clubs will play four home matches; in the Qualifiers, the team finishing ninth and 10th in Super League and the top two teams from the Championship will have four home matches; and in the Championship Shield, clubs finishing the regular Championship season in 5th to 8th place will have four home fixtures.
In Super League and Championship Shield, the competing clubs will carry over the points and scoring records from the regular season into the Super 8s. The Qualifiers will start with zero points because the eight clubs are drawn from two different competitions.
What happens after clubs have played seven matches in the Super 8s?
The top four clubs in Super League will go into the play-offs: 1st v 4th and 2nd v 3rd. The winners of those two matches will contest the Super League Grand Final. All eight Super League clubs are guaranteed top flight status for the following season.
In the Qualifiers, the top three clubs at the conclusion of the Super 8s are also guaranteed Super League status the following season. The 12th place in Super League for the following season will be determined by the Million Pound Game, a play-off between the 4th and 5th-placed clubs played at the home of the 4th-placed club.
In the Championship Shield, the top four clubs enter a play-off, 1st v 4th and 2nd v 3rd, with the winners contesting the Championship Shield final.
The bottom two teams (7th and 8th) in the Championship Shield will be relegated to League One.
Has the sport considered straight promotion and relegation, a system which operates in football?
Rugby League has previously used straight promotion and relegation between Super League and the Championships, however the gulf between the competitions was too large. To compete in Super League, a club needs to have a squad of exclusively full-time players backed up by a fully professional coaching and administrative staff; Championship clubs have been by necessity semi-professional in nature, both on and off the field. Making the transition from one to the other is a difficult and protracted process and, as history demonstrated, unachievable over the course of a few short months.
How do you know that this is going to work?
The proposals were based on studies performed by KPMG, and after lengthy consultation with fans, clubs, players and broadcasters. There is also already plenty of evidence to indicate that the imminent return of promotion and relegation is having a positive impact on the sport. Over halfway through the regular season, this is the closest First Utility Super League campaign ever seen with just a couple of points between the top five clubs and 12 clubs in contention for the play-offs. In the Kingstone Press Championship, the battle to finish in the top nine places (and thereby avoiding relegation) is cut-throat whilst in Championship One the title race is more intense than ever before.
How will the financial distributions change to facilitate the return of meaningful and sustainable promotion and relegation?
The change in structure has seen a significant increase in the central funding available to those clubs relegated from Super League in 2014 and the top clubs in the Championship in 2014. This should allow for more full-time professional clubs in the championship competition in 2015, ensuring that the gap between the teams in the Super League and the Championships is narrower than ever before.
Will the clubs relegated from Super League receive a ‘parachute payment’?
No, but there is increased annual central funding to those clubs relegated from Super League in 2014.
What changes will be made to the salary caps for Super League and Championship clubs?
There will be no change to the Super League Salary Cap Regulations in 2015.
The Championship Salary Cap regulations are substantially changed for 2015. The major changes to the Regulations are:
The move to a “live cap system”. This represents a significant change from the approach taken under previous salary cap regulations, in that compliance is now to be monitored on a ‘live’ and ongoing basis, enabling breaches to be investigated, determined and sanctioned without delay.
The increase in the Finite Salary Cap to £1 million.
Will Championship matches and Qualifiers involving Championship clubs be broadcast live on television?
At this stage it is intended that the Summer Bash and one match from every week of the Qualifiers will be broadcast live.
When and where will Magic Weekend be played in 2015?
Negotiations over the staging of Magic Weekend in both 2015 and beyond are ongoing with a number of potential venues. The unique atmosphere that the Super League event brings has made it very attractive to destination cities. An announcement on the future of Magic Weekend is imminent.
When and where will the Summer Bash be played in 2015?
The Summer Bash will take place at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, over the bank holiday weekend of Saturday May 23 and Sunday May 24, 2015 with three Championship fixtures on each day. The Summer Bash will bring the same party atmosphere to Blackpool that Super League fans have enjoyed at Magic Weekend over the last few years with live music, a Fanzone and on-pitch entertainment.