Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont has revealed that Super League clubs will meet on Wednesday afternoon in Manchester to discuss the make-up of the league structure for 2019 and beyond – and admits his preference would be a 14-team league with some form of promotion and relegation remaining in place.
The Super 8s system will remain in place for 2018, but it is unclear how it will end yet, with deliberations and debate over whether to extend Super League to 13 – or even 14 – teams for 2019.
And Beaumont has revealed that clubs will hold crunch talks on Wednesday, saying that he thinks there is a legitimate reason to extend the amount of teams in the top-tier.
He said: “There’s a big meeting tomorrow at the RFL on what the structure should be going forward, and I’ll be at that. What’s very clear is that it won’t be this going forward.
“There are 12 Super League sides at present but the owners and the RFL accept there are really 13. We consider ourselves a strong one because we’ve met every criteria in terms of funding and a return on investment.
“We’ve got a great facility, we’ve hit the average attnedance, so we’ve met all the criteria to get the maximum dividend. Hull KR, while they got relegated, are a strong Super League side. The game needs to answer of whether there could even be a 14th team; whether that’s a rejuvenated Bradford under a strong leadership and financial backing, or if Toronto could be a genuine 14th team.”
However, despite the talk of an expanded Super League leading to suggestions of a return to licensing and no route into the top flight via promotion, Beaumont has insisted he is vigorously against closing the door on the Championship.
He said: “I will only ever vote on something that provides a way for someone to get promoted and where there is some form of risk.”
He also added that he would keep the Million Pound Game in some format – a game in which Leigh’s place in Super League for 2018 will be determined on Saturday when they play Catalans.
“I think you’d still have it,” he said. “I want to be careful with what I say, but everyone seems pretty clear to me that this structure isn’t wanted.
“What people are against is being able to get relegated by finishing ninth, 10th or 11th. The Million Pound Game could be bottom of Super League playing top of the Championship, so everyone is clear that we want jeopardy and there is a path to Super League.
“There has to be a way to get in but there also has to be a level of criteria in regards to what you meet, and the threat that if you don’t meet them, you go down. Possibly the answer if you go to 14 teams, why wouldn’t you have the Qualifiers but sixth play seventh and six teams go up.
“The structure will be there next year – it’s just how it ends. It’s to be decided on Wednesday.
“We need to get the sport to 14 strong teams and if someone is capable of picking the bottom team off from the Championship, then that’s good. But there’s 13 solid teams and you’re always going to have one operating outside of Super League dominating the Championship.”