Championship Focus: Gareth Walker reflects on the delays affecting the 2020 season

And so the wait goes on.

Last Monday, it was widely expected that at the very least, we would have news on whether promotion and relegation would be scrapped or maintained for the 2020 season.

There was also the possibility we could hear whether or not the Championship and League 1 could resume this year, although that was less certain.

Instead, in the wake of the RFL board meeting, we had another statement that left many deflated and frustrated.

The situation, we were told, would be reviewed at the next two RFL board meetings (today and next Monday), and a decision on both scenarios will be made by July 23 at the very latest.

Understandably, that announcement was met with criticism from many sections of the game – supporters, players and officials.

Some on social media questioned the player welfare element of the uncertainty on their futures rolling on for potentially another two a half weeks.

The delay caused issues elsewhere in the sport too, delaying the announcement of the Super League fixture list (something else which has been heavily criticised).

I understand that the draft proposal included fixtures on the final weekend aimed at finishing with a bang, but which could be problematic if relegation is at stake.

This column has defended the RFL’s stance on much of the above before now.

If the governing body rushes into a decision to scrap the Championship and League One seasons, and then see government guidelines change that would allow crowds to be present, then they are left open to ridicule and possibly even legal action from disgruntled clubs.

As we continue to see, the landscape on sporting activities continues to develop on a weekly basis, with more restrictions being lifted all the time.

In that sense, waiting a little longer could be hugely beneficial to clubs at this level if it does allow them to get back onto the field this year.

It is now accepted that for the majority of clubs, playing behind closed doors is impractical on several fronts, which was always the suspicion.

However, that situation doesn’t seem to prevent the RFL board from making at least two key decisions that could ease the short-term pressure both on them and clubs.

The first is scrapping relegation for 2020.

I firmly believe in the promotion and relegation concept in Rugby League.

But it would be wholly unfair to have relegation in a season that has been drastically changed fixture-wise, and which is likely to see one club – Toronto Wolfpack – play all of their matches away from home.

Scrapping relegation now would allow Super League clubs to make better plans for 2021 and complete their fixture list for this year.

A decision on promotion can be made once we know whether or not the Championship and League One can return. But it needs to be based around another important decision that could have been made by now.

The likes of Featherstone Chairman Mark Campbell and Leigh owner Derek Beaumont have been pushing the RFL for weeks to determine what a meaningful 2020 season has to look like to include an element of promotion.

That is something that can be decided outside of any government guidelines or changing landscapes.

Is it each club playing each other once? Do they need to play a minimum of 20 matches? Do we have to have a play-offs?

All of those can be decided today and would immediately give those clubs something to work towards in terms of their potential 2020 fixtures.

If it’s not possible to achieve what is construed as a meaningful season then that’s fine; but at least tell clubs what they need to aim for.

The likes of John Kear and Tony Smith have been vocal in recent weeks in telling the RFL they need to lead and make some decisions instead of constantly delegating.

On these two issues at the very least, it seems illogical that they should delay any longer.