Elstone confirms relegation for 2021

Robert Elstone has confirmed relegation will take place during the 2021 season.

Super League will ‘promote’ a club from the Championship to take the vacant place left by Toronto Wolfpack.

The successful club will only receive £1 million in central funding, around two thirds of what their counterparts will receive, leaving some to believe they’re being dealt a tough card.

That had left some questioning whether there would be another exemption from relegation, but Elstone confirmed that wouldn’t be the case.

“It’s safe to assume that there will be relegation,” Elstone said.

“Notwithstanding how Covid plays out in 2021. On the basis we’re all vaccinated and safe, then in a 12-team Super League, we’re committed to a promotion and relegation.”

Explaining why the successful club would only receive £1 million in funding, Elstone said: “We debated that for quite some time. There were a range of views as to what we should be awarding and we came to a consensus that a million was a number that would allow a club to compete and build a squad that had a chance.

“There was a feeling that the whole economics of Super League are suppressed and the consequence would be that spending on player wages will be reduced, and therefore with that level of support from the centre, a club could be competitive. It was a combination of current economic climate, the player wage market and general affordability across Super League.

“The clubs felt that with a good coach and good existing squad and with that level of funding, a club could come into Super League and be competitive. Clearly it will be a challenge and it will need to have a good coach and recruit well, but clubs felt it was the right amount of money.”
Elstone, who took questions from the media on Friday, covered an array of topics, including the latest on TV negotiations, though he said there was no substantial update.

“We’re still in negotiations and still making progress.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to give any further update or deadlines. What I would say is important is that the game needs to stop shooting itself in the foot with negativity and stop talking ourselves down. Sky and Betfred are all looking very closely at Super League and we have to be positive and project a bright future and project togetherness and move forward saying how great this sport is. If there’s one ask of everyone it’s that they all do that.”

Following the expulsion of Toronto Wolfpack, Elstone was also asked how he planned to improve the minimum standards of the existing eleven clubs.

“It’s the perennial challenge the game has faced but one we took on two years ago and got stuck into. We were making progress in a number of areas. In 2019 three records of attendance crowd, we were turning TV audience up through to the start of 2020.

“The reality is the game has serious financial constraints and we need to grow TV revenue, sponsorship revenue and external income into support. To drive those we have to consider whether it’s right or able to bring some private investment to the sport.”

On the matter of private equity, Elstone added: “The conversations we’ve been having are exclusive on a growth. The only merit is to service a growth agenda and that’s a commitment all clubs have signed up to. That’s what I’m excited by, it’s based on growth.”

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