Revealed: RFL’s proposed structure for Championship & League 1 Autumn invitational competition

Details of the proposed Autumn invitational competition for Championship and League 1 clubs have been outlined by the RFL.

An email, obtained by TotalRL, explained the proposed structure of the competition, which will have £250,000 of prize money up for grabs.

The governing body has drawn up a model based on a 16-team entry, though it remains to be seen whether that many clubs will sign up for the event, with participation voluntary. Some clubs believe they are better off remaining off the pitch.

Under the current proposal, the competition will last nine weeks, beginning on the weekend of October 3/4 and concluding on the weekend of November 28/29.

Clubs will be split into two geographical conferences – East & West, and clubs will play each team in their conference in a round-robin event over the course of seven weekends. The top two teams from each conference will advance to the semi-finals, followed by a Grand Final the weekend after.

It’s hoped that crowds will be allowed into stadiums from the beginning of the tournament after the government outlined their plans to have spectators present from October. Meanwhile, a November finish also avoids potential issues with contracts, with player contracts running until November 30.

Clubs who wish to participate will have to demonstrate they can comply with return to train protocols and medical standards, including testing, while their ground must also pass the RFL’s protocol for allowing spectators while the pandemic is still live.

The RFL, crucially, has yet to determine how the £250,000 prize pot will be shared, with further details to be revealed later this week. Many clubs are awaiting that information before making a decision on their potential entry.

But sources have told TotalRL a 16-team entry appears ambitious, with many clubs planning to opt-out at this stage.

Both divisions have been declared null and void by the RFL board after months of deliberation between clubs.