Elstone admits to concerns over Toronto credentials in Super League

Robert Elstone has admitted that Super League and the RFL are seeking assurances over Toronto’s credentials to play in Super League, but says any decision on whether they will be admitted if they secure promotion must be made before the Championship play-offs finish.

It has been widely speculated that the Wolfpack are under extra scrutiny, with regard to whether or not they will be given the green light to play in Super League, if and when they are promoted from the Championship.

Elstone insisted on Monday that there is no ‘anti-Toronto agenda’, but says the governing body are still waiting for answers on whether the Wolfpack will meet minimum standards required to enter Super League.

He said: “If Toronto win the right to be promoted then they have to meet minimum standards. We’re talking to the RFL about what those standards look like, and we’re seeking a number of assurances from them. If we get those, and Toronto are promoted, then they won’t be taking any distribution and the pot will be shared between 11 clubs.”

However, Elstone has promised that any decision on Toronto’s chances of playing in Super League will be decided before the Grand Final – which, if the Wolfpack win, will open the door for them to play in the top-flight for the first time in their short history. “We’re still in dialogue with the RFL and it’s important we get assurances well before promotion is secured on the pitch,” he said.

“It’s a dialogue which started in July and we’re getting close to an understanding on where they are as a club. What we can’t do is make the decision after promotion on the pitch, it has to be done in advance of that.

“Toulouse will be asked to comply with minimum standards but there are a number of different concerns and issues relating to Toronto. There are some things we’re seeking answers on that we don’t feel we need to with Toulouse. That’s not to say there’s an anti-Toronto agenda, but the circumstances are different.”

Elstone also admitted he believes the Super League calendar is too long, conceding there was ‘fixture fatigue’ at the end of the regular season and he is endeavouring to shorten it when the time is right. That will not be next season however, with Elstone confirming that loop fixtures and the 29-game season will remain in place for 2020.

He said: “The calendar is too long and there were some serious looks at shortening it. There’s a feeling that we needed to run with it for 2020 but have a more serious look in 2021. My own view is that there are too many games and there was an element of fixture fatigue towards the end of the season. Less is more, and it needs to be about quality rather than quantity. It’s something I will continue to push.

Elstone also said Super League is ‘very close’ to revealing where Magic Weekend will be held next year, adding that there is plenty of interest to take the event away from Anfield, where it was staged in May for the first time.