Ottawa bid accepted by RFL for 2020 start – but New York entry delayed until 2021

Eric Perez’s bid to launch a rugby league team in Ottawa for the 2020 season has been accepted in principle by the Rugby Football League – but the consortium from New York will have to wait another 12 months to fulfil their vision of playing in League 1.

League Express revealed on Monday that while both the Ottawa and New York applications had received overwhelming support from Championship and League 1 clubs, only one was likely to be admitted in time for the start of next season.

And the governing body has now confirmed that Ottawa, who will relocate from Hemel, are the team set to receive the green light, but New York – whose bid was led by Ricky Wilby – will not enter until 2021 at the earliest. The RFL cited changes in the ownership structure, and the fact it is a start-up operation, as reasons for the delay.

In a statement, the RFL said: “Last month, the Rugby Football League was asked following a meeting of member clubs in Salford to conduct further due diligence on two overseas applications to play in Betfred League One from 2020 – one to relocate the Hemel Stags club to Ottawa in Canada, and the other for a new club in New York, USA.

“The RFL Board today informed the member clubs, and the consortia behind the applications, of its decision. The application for Hemel Stags to be relocated to Ottawa has been accepted in principle – although both the RFL and the consortia have agreed that some further work is required before it can be confirmed that the Stags will be ready to start the 2020 season in Ottawa.

“With regard to the New York bid, the RFL and the consortium have agreed that entry into League One in time for 2020 is not achievable without placing the club under undue pressure, because it is a start-up operation without the benefit of existing operations already being in place, and due to some change in the ownership structure during the process. The RFL has therefore encouraged the club to work towards entry into League One in 2021.”