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  1. Promotion & Relegation/Licencing hybrid system. The 4-year cycle “Era League” table The Proposal: With an inevitable league restructure on the way I would like to propose a hybrid P&R/Licencing system to determine which clubs should have Super League status. I believe Super League status should be judged by on-field performance rather than off-field criteria. However, I appreciate simple yearly promotion and relegation causes as many problems as it solves. I believe there is a hybrid solution. I propose introducing 4-year league table consisting of the results of 4 consecutive seasons of each of the Super League, Championship and League One divisions. These leagues could be called Legacy or Era League tables (working title). After 4 seasons, or one 4-year Era cycle, the 3 teams found at the bottom of the Super League Era League table will be relegated to the Championship (at least 3 teams, 4 being my personal preference). The three teams at the top of the Championship Era League are promoted to Super League. The three teams at the bottom of the Championship Era table are relegated to League One. The three teams at the top of the League One table are promoted to the Championship. The following season will begin the next 4-year cycle. The Positives: It creates the opportunity for clubs to compete for a special exclusive honour/trophy awarded to the club who finishes top of their respective Era League. The Era leagues will not create any extra fixtures as they are compiled from existing results from regular rugby seasons. Every single fixture will count toward something no matter how good or bad a single season might be going for any particular club. No club will be disproportionally punished for having one rare, disappointing, unlucky season. Clubs will have more certainty to plan over a 4-year period and ends the desperate scramble for survival which comes with yearly one up one down P&R. It removes the chance of lower league clubs and fans becoming disenfranchised with a ring-fenced Super League licensing system. A promoted club has time to establish and grow in their new league without becoming a “yo-yo” club between two leagues year on year. The 4-year cycle can co-inside with a World Cup cycle helping establish World Cups as the pinnacle of the sport and give a sense of renewal after a World Cup tournament with refreshed looking leagues and clean slate Era league tables. The number of teams promoted or relegated over a cycle can be increased/decreased through either desire or necessity. Fans would have a greater sense of justice and understanding if a league was visible and available to them to show how consistent or inconsistent their club has been over a 4-year cycle. The Negatives: With play-off systems currently in place, not all teams will play the exact same number of games in a season and not all those games are of the same significance. A Grand Final is not the same as any other play-off game and a play-off game is not the same as a regular season game. A play-off victory would therefore need to count as more in the Era League standings than a regular season fixture in recognition of it’s significance and difficulty, while a Grand Final victory would have to count significantly more than any other game. For example, and for Era League purposes only, a play-off victory could count as 3 Era League points and winning a Grand Final could count as 6 Era League points rather than the standard 2 league points. This does make things slightly less straight forward in terms of calculating the Era league toward the end of a 4-year cycle. However, this can be avoided with a simple table calculated by a win percentages over the 4 year cycle or a table comprised of Era competitions points decided by final league standings each year. E.g league finish 1st = 12pts, 12th = 1pt. This hybrid model also lessens the number of teams who would normally get promoted in the same time scale with the simple one up one down P&R system, although that could be altered (I propose 4 teams as the cycle lasts 4 years). A poorer performing or weaker club could potentially take up valuable space in a particular league not suited for them for a longer period of time (However, this is less likely due to the consistency needed over the 4 year cycle to gain promotion in the first place). This system operates fairest if every team completes their entire season with no cancelled fixtures, but hopefully those days are behind us. Conclusion: I believe this model works better for clubs as it gives them a greater sense of certainty, stability and more time to prepare for promotion or relegation. It provides a greater indicator of clubs who are deserving or undeserving of their current league placement. It retains a sense of peril fans still want the leagues to possess. It offers enough security for clubs to operate with confidence and it offers ambitious up and coming clubs the chance to progress. All the while it creates a brand new trophy top teams can compete for with extra significance and prestige without creating any added fixtures. What do you think?
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