Elstone explains Toronto apprehension

Robert Elstone insists Super League and its clubs are giving Toronto Wolfpack every opportunity to show they can be a part of the competition in 2021.

But he insists there must be more evidence the club can be viable if they are to be re-admitted next year.

Super League and its clubs decided on Friday to defer a decision over whether Toronto will return in 2021, with a four-week delay after prospective new owner Carlo LiVolsi asked for time to go away and re-examine his plans for the Wolfpack.

League Express understands part of LiVolsi’s proposal included an assumption the Wolfpack would receive £2 million in central distribution, which is more than the other clubs currently receive, a detail which left many clubs bemused.

The Wolfpack’s financial projections also mentioned 9,000 fans paying for full price adult tickets, which one CEO described as “laughable”, given how a large portion of crowds are comprised of junior and concession tickets, thus reducing income.

And Elstone says it is now on the Wolfpack and LiVolsi to prove they can add value to the game, which he believes has not been shown thus far.

“In essence, we wanted to see the viability of Super League in Canada, and there certainly wasn’t enough evidence to support that,” said Elstone.

“Plus, the viability of the club itself, which is around financial projections and the input of the owner and funding of the club. Neither of those were answered in sufficient detail. They were the only conclusions we could come to and they were fair and reasonable.

“But as has been widely reported, Mr LiVolsi reached out to us and asked for more time. On balance it felt like the right thing to do, to be seen to be giving him and the club every opportunity.”

When asked what Toronto need to do to be accepted, Elstone said: “In simple terms, firstly the club has to prove it’s viable in its own right through local revenues.

“Beyond that, the question is whether Super League as an organisation will be better off at some point in the foreseeable future for having a team in Toronto. Will it bring incremental revenue that will add sponsorships and TV deals that will flow through into distributions?”

Elstone also revealed that Super League will be doing its own investigation into the detail behind Toronto’s acceptance into the domestic leagues, saying: “We’ll look at the work the RFL did when Toronto was first admitted into the competition and to see what work has been done on Ottawa’s application to come in.”

Elstone also admitted that no decision has been made on whether Super League will comprise eleven or twelve teams in 2021, if Toronto are not re-admitted.

He said: “We’ll have to give that due consideration. There are things in favour of both camps and clubs have got different views about whether it should be eleven or twelve.

“That’s part of the plan, to see what’s right for Super League. As people know, we will be absorbing a Sky rebate and there’s every chance crowds won’t come back as quickly as we’d hoped. So we need to consider that in terms of the discussion surrounding 11 versus 12.”