Derek Beaumont believes the RFL working groups are intentionally putting barriers in place to prevent the Championship and League 1 seasons returning – and has even written Ralph Rimmer’s speech he believes will be along the lines of what he will use in confirming the seasons have become null and void!
The furious Leigh owner believes a number of delay tactics have been utilised to slow down the process of working through issues currently stopping the two competitions returning later this year.
Beaumont has been part of the working groups created to find ways for the leagues to return.
But he and Featherstone chairman Mark Campbell did not attend Friday’s virtual meeting because the RFL have yet to inform them of what they perceive to be a ‘meaningful’ competition.
The matter of promotion and relegation has yet to be resolved but it has previously been stated that promotion could still happen if competition integrity could be maintained.
As a result, a proposal has been devised, as published in League Express, that would see each team play each other once.
But as it stands, clubs have yet to be informed by the RFL whether or not that competition structure passes as being meaningful and therefore clubs are growing increasingly frustrated at the governing body’s unwillingness to address the matter.
Beaumont has even proposed a 14-team Super League next year, which would see two clubs promoted share a slice of Super League funding next season with no relegation from the Championship and still enabling promotion from League 1 of two clubs to fill the void of the two promoted clubs from the Championship.
Beyond that, Beaumont has even proposed a 16-team Super League competition THIS year, with four Championship teams joining the 12 top-flight teams, playing each other once and the bottom four teams at the end of it being relegated to the Championship which he believes enables the four full-time championship teams that aren’t covered by the furlough scheme and are more akin to Super League teams to be protected whilst allowing the clubs that appear to have little desire to play to mothball although York, who are not full time, are also at the forefront of seeing some form of return.
But he says both proposals have been ignored and added: “Some people wouldn’t agree with something just because it had come out of my mouth.”
That played its part in Beaumont and Campbell no-showing their latest meeting. He stated “In the first meeting it was agreed that Karen Moorhouse who chaired it would take the proposal referred to and determine if it was a meaningful competition and if not, to state what was. This was recorded by email the following day and Karen states that it did not necessarily follow that promotion had to happen from a meaningful season as there were many issues to consider.
“Notwithstanding that five clubs of the seven represented Leigh, Newcastle, London, York and Featherstone all stated that it needed stating what was a meaningful competition in order that we could then associate the costs to it as none of us were interested in a bunch of friendlies.”
Beaumont is of the belief that the RFL don’t want to make a call on the promotion and relegation matter and if the competition doesn’t return, they, therefore, don’t need to make a decision. Super League have made it abundantly clear that they do not wish to entertain the prospect of promotion and relegation.
“I cannot think of one reason why the RFL cannot say at this point of time what would represent a meaningful season,” he said.
“Forget promotion and relegation, why can’t they say that? Because once we know that we can work out the costs and get moving forward. But at the minute we don’t so we can’t move forward and in my opinion, it is being done to obstruct us getting back on the field. By stating what is a meaningful season potentially weakens their position in any future litigation which may be necessary and they know that.
“We’re all being made to fill forms in on our costs and operations but the RFL don’t need these forms filling in. They have contracts of every player, our average attendances, our salary cap returns and our income. There is no need to delay us by filling these forms other than to buy time.
“Everyone is saying the costs are going to be too high but by the time we play in August, every club, in my opinion, will have taken advantage of furlough monies that outweigh the cost of testing and losses of playing behind closed doors and I await anyone who can prove otherwise.
“I believe from what I have seen that the working group is a vehicle to slow down the process and as an obstacle to allow the Championship to return to play. All I see is negativity presented problems, not solutions. Of course there are issues and responsibilities to be met so let’s identify them, present them and then overcome them.
“Testing is being driven as a big cost factor. We have seen Premier League football get 100% negative results this week. Why is it such an obstacle? If you test a player on Thursday to get a lab result on Saturday saying he can play on Sunday what does that actually achieve unless that player doesn’t move an inch from where the test took place and doesn’t come into contact with anyone else?
“They are trying to say that part-time players are a different entity as they have jobs and therefore present a bigger risk of spread. That’s nonsense in my opinion as many are furloughed from those jobs and many Super League players have wives that workand children in school and nurseries. Unless the players are put in complete isolation there is little difference.
“We are being told that players have to opt-in which is understandable but it’s being presented in a way which enables a club to communicate to players so that they can’t take part where this doesn’t seem an issue in Super League. Nowhere in the RFL return to train or play documents is there an educational for players prior to opt-in. The RFU have this in their first stage.
“Surely players have to be medically advised that they are the lowest risk group as young fit healthy athletes and fully informed of the risks prior to being able to just hang their shirt on their peg until next year. The whole thing is structured to mothball us rather than drive us to have a meaningful competition.”
On the matter of promotion and relegation, Beaumont added: “Why have Toronto let Andy Ackers go to Salford when they are already struggling for numbers? Why have Toronto signed three expensive players on three-year deals when they’re sat in a precarious position. Why is Chris Chester saying in the press that relegation won’t happen? I get what Chris is saying based on his situation in the hypothetical situation he refers to, but those two points alone of blooding youngsters and sending players for early operations justify why relegation needs to remain to ensure a meaningful Super League season for the broadcaster fans and sponsors alike.
“Super League don’t want relegation because at the time of closure the most vulnerable team was Toronto. Whilst Toronto are in Super League it suits the rest of them because they don’t take money from the competition.”
Beaumont is so convinced that he has even written what he believes RFL CEO Rimmer’s speech will look like once it’s announced the season will not return.
“I can write for you here the words along the lines of which I believe Ralph will use when he gets to that point.
“He’ll say ‘My job is to protect the sport as a whole and the loan from the government was given for that purpose. Unfortunately in these unprecedented times the lockdown has had to continue further than the resources of the loan would be able to support. With the costs faced to clubs far outweighing that would present possibilities of financial ruin for some Championship clubs, in particular if games were to be played behind closed doors. to protect the sport as a whole I must protect the broadcast contract whose only interest is in screening Super League matches.”
He continued: “The whole of the sport including the Championship and League 1 is underpinned by the revenue from the broadcast contract therefore it is imperative that the resources are used to satisfy that and ultimately that is the way to protect the Championship, by not having them play behind closed doors with no income and costs forced upon them they cannot meet and by watering down the loan to facilitate that prevents fulfilling the Super League obligation. For that reason the Championship is not viable this season and we look forward to it returning better than ever in 2021 with promotion a continuing key element of it and we ask that fans, sponsors and partners support their clubs through this difficult time. It’s a tough decision that the clubs have had to take but one that ultimately will protect the whole sport and that is what is important in all of this.”