Tuesday was a hugely dramatic day for British rugby league. What initially promised to be a routine unveiling of Robert Elstone as the chief executive of Super League led to dramatic revelations about the Super 8s reportedly being scrapped, and many more intricate details concerning a period in which Super League supremos have opted to keep their silence until now.
With so many questions being asked about a myriad of topics, here’s what we know. This is For Your Info.
- The first fact: Robert Elstone will lead Super League moving forward and, primarily, attempt to strengthen the competition’s profile.
- Ian Lenagan, Eamonn McManus and Elstone himself all confirmed at various points that the Super 8s format will not continue next season. Elstone simply said “yes” when asked in a written media briefing if the structure was changing.
- That was met with a furious response from Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington – who said the press conference was an “absurd grab for power for the game by a small group of men who think they own the game.”
- Championship side Batley also refuted claims in the press conference it had been finalised the Super 8s had been scrapped.
- Lenagan also promised that funding to Championship and League 1 clubs will remain unaffected until at least the end of the current TV deal with Sky Sports, which runs until 2021 (for more on that story, click here).
- Lenagan also made it abundantly clear that there is a ‘consistent 11-1 position’ in Super League in regards to key decisions being made. He also said ‘there is no secret about who the 12th club is: it is Leeds’.
- At the extraordinary general meeting which took place last year that led to Super League seizing more control of the sport, a vote of 9-3 was in favour of doing so. Now, Lenagan claims, Leeds are the only dissenting voice.
- With no Super 8s, the extra games will be made up from so-called ‘loop’ fixtures. That would mean 11 at home, 11 away, a Magic Weekend fixture before a series of randomly-drawn games to bring the number of games up to a level around what it is now. That, primarily, will satisfy Sky’s contractual demands: they have an agreement to show a certain amount of games per season. They do not, however, have agreements to show a particular structure or format of rugby league.
- The future of the Million Pound Game is by no means terminal, too. It was revealed that the one-off game could well remain in a one-up, one-down format – potentially as a play-off final-style game. It was claimed that Sky would prefer to see the game as a celebration (ie. where one team is promoted) as opposed to a day of devastation (where someone would definitely be relegated as seen in the last two years of the game).
- There has been no definitive verdict made yet on whether the play-offs and road to the Grand Final will be changed from the current top-four format, or whether a previous variant of the play-offs could return. Those, however, needed to be ‘decided pretty quickly’, Elstone admitted.
- Elstone, in the later briefing, also said that if four Championship clubs were promoted in the final year of the Qualifiers this season and four Super League clubs were relegated, there would be nothing that Super League could do to prevent those sides taking their place in the top-flight.
If you have any more questions about what was asked or what is being discussed, we will try our best to help! Tweet us @LeagueExpress.