EXCLUSIVE: Proposals tabled for 14-team Championship in 2019 – with three up from L1

By Matthew Shaw and Aaron Bower

Proposals have been tabled to Championship and League 1 clubs to expand the Championship to 14 teams next season as part of the plans to revamp the domestic league structure – which would include three teams, rather than two, being promoted from League 1 this year to increase the size of the competition.

The RFL have levied a proposal to Championship and League 1 clubs which includes expanding the second tier by two extra teams next season and removing the current Super 8s structure.

TotalRL can reveal that while the RFL and its member clubs have not yet signed off on any league structure following further meetings this week, it is thoroughly expected to get enough votes to be passed through for next season.

If that happens, it means a number of dramatic late changes will be enforced into this year’s format in both Championship and League 1 that will have huge ramifications on both competitions. They are:

  • Only the side finishing bottom of the Championship will be relegated instead of the bottom two; 11th will now survive.
  • Rather than the side finishing top – currently York – automatically gaining promotion, the side finishing second – currently Bradford – will also go straight up.
  • The play-off series including the sides finishing between 2nd and 5th will change to the teams between 3rd and 6th, with the winner gaining the third and final promotion spot.

The huge changes would mean that Bradford, who are six points ahead of third-placed Workington with four games left, would be all-but assured of automatic promotion instead of having to face a play-off campaign after York usurped them at the top at the weekend. York would need one more win to now be guaranteed of Championship rugby in 2019; given their superior points difference, the Bulls realistically would only need the same.

None of the changes would have an impact on promotion and relegation to and from Super League this year. The top three sides in the Qualifiers will be joined in the top flight by the winners of the Million Pound Game.