It might go down in history as the ‘Langtree Park Agreement’, after the 14 Super League clubs finally backed the RFL’s plans to introduce the ‘two x 12s go into three eights’ league structure.
A little bit like the Munich Agreement of 1938 some cynics might observe, but nevertheless the six Super League clubs, six of the biggest and most successful clubs, which had met the previous Tuesday to formulate their own structure of both the leagues and governance, gave their approval to a scheme that last autumn they had opposed so strongly they walked out of a meeting en bloc.
One up then to the the Rugby Football League, and in particular chief executive Nigel Wood, who engineered the safe passage of what to most people on the outside of those meetings, still looks like a hare-brained scheme.
Perhaps he was at the last minute able to produce convincing evidence of similar sporting structures that have proved a resounding success.
Hull FC were one of the six rebel clubs but via the medium of their website, have endorsed “the innovative new Super League structure that is due to come into place for 2015 following extensive feedback with the RFL. The club were one of a number of parties to initially share some concerns about elements of the proposal, but following further feedback this week, they have backed plans to reduce Super League to a 12-team competition for the unity and benefit of the game on the whole.”
If that’s the case, we ought to thank the six clubs for their volte face. The uncertainty going into a new season would certainly not have been good for the game, and in effect, the longer the delay in making a decision, the more likely it would be the RFL would have its way.
The proposal goes to the RFL board next week for rubber stamping but the closing sentence of Friday’s announcement raised a slight worry.
“Full details of the new structures will be announced later this month,” it said.
Let’s hope thinking about the detail doesn’t reveal a few significant chinks in the grand plan.
Still, at least the civil war that was bubbling up within the game is becalmed, and we leave you with the immortal words that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain uttered on the steps of 10 Downing Street on the evening of 30 September 1938.
“I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Now I recommend you go home, and sleep quietly in your beds.”
League Express editorial, Monday 20th Jan 2014, Issue 2898