Derek Beaumont has revealed Super League clubs have proposed a 13-team competition in 2020, but to then relegate two teams the following year.
The RFL are yet to make a decision on promotion and relegation at the end of the season, though there are growing calls from within Super League to not relegate a side from the top flight.
Clubs want to ensure relegated is revoked to avoid further financial hits, with clubs already struggling as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Relegation results in a significant loss in central distribution money, which would add further strain on clubs during already testing times.
Leigh owner Beaumont, whose club are top of the Championship after an unbeaten start to the season, agrees with his Super League peers on that.
However, he insists promotion must still be obtainable for Championship sides next year and doesn’t believe relegating two teams in 2021 is the answer.
“It’s been suggested that they don’t have relegation and I’ve been approached by a Super League chairman about it being a 13-team competition and two go down the following year,” Beaumont revealed on Rugby League Back Chat, which airs on FreeSports this Thursday at 5 PM.
“I wouldn’t be keen on that because staying in Super League is a tough gig as I’ve found out twice before. By trying to stay in there by beating two other teams is even more difficult.
“The thought process from Super League is that if it was Toronto who went down, and Leigh came up for argument’s sake, then the pie is getting split the same next year because Toronto don’t get any money. By not relegating anybody you’ve still got the same situation because Toronto still don’t take that money.
“Plus by not relegating anybody you’ve not got to pay a parachute payment so Super League, fundamentally, would be better off with having a thirteenth team.
“For me, the only stumbling block that would have me against it is the scenario of having two teams come down the following year. If you can deal with that, everyone is in favour as I understand, I haven’t spoken to Featherstone or Toulouse who will believe they have as a good a chance as we do, as will other teams.”
Instead, Beaumont believes the current situation is the perfect opportunity to expand Super League to 14 teams, with one side promoted for the next two years and no sides coming down from the top tier.
But Super League clubs are keen to avoid permanently expanding the competition as it would mean they have to split their central distribution money across more clubs, leaving them with less money.
“The thing is the finance side of it,” Beaumont said.
“It’s splitting the pie, whatever the money is, 14 ways rather than 12.
“If they go to 14 teams then you’ve got a situation where the pie is being split more. But you’ve got to look at what is best for the game rather than what’s best for each individual club financially.
“I appreciate there’s no certainty with Covid and when it’s going to end, so what we have to do is put some certainty around things we can control, so we can control saying nobody is going to get relegated and we can control saying somebody is still going to get promotion and we can control what happens beyond that.
“But what you’re saying (14 teams) makes sense to me, that is the ideal solution, get it to 14 teams and have a business plan in place for what would be the worst-case scenario financially for each team in those circumstances.
“The most important part of the conversation is that the decision is solely made by the RFL. It’s not a Super League decision. The RFL will decide that.”
Rugby League Back Chat airs on FreeSports (Freeview 64 Sky 422 Virgin 553 Freesat 252 Bt 64) this Thursday, with Beaumont joined by leading agent Craig Harrison.