RFL planning to restore Rugby League governance

The Rugby Football League is making plans behind the scenes to restore the financial health of the game, which will bring back Super League into the ambit of the sport’s governing body.

Although the plans are under wraps at the moment, League Express understands there is a seven-stage process that the RFL wants to carry out.

1 It wants to see an agreement reached as quickly as possible on the next broadcasting deal.

2 It wants to secure the departure of current SLE Executive Chairman in the short term, after Elstone announced that he was handing in his notice earlier this month.

3 It wants then to be able to reach an agreement on how much funding will go to the Championship and League 1 clubs from the new agreement. The RFL is confident that the Super League clubs will agree to negotiate in good faith in relation to the clubs in the lower leagues and, although they expect to see serious reductions in the amounts of money that will be distributed to those clubs, they should not be left with nothing.

4 It wants the Super League clubs to agree to return the administration of Super League to the RFL, ideally involving a vote at a Special General Meeting of the Super League clubs.

5 It then wants to be able to cut the £3 million per year that is currently being spent by SLE on running its own organisation.

6 And it wants to create a new commercial entity, ideally a joint venture with the Super League clubs, which will handle its commercial properties with staff who can focus on generating income in various forms.

7 It wants the whole process to be completed in plenty of time before the World Cup begins in October this year, so that the tournament can proceed without distractions.

Although no one at the RFL was prepared to speak publicly about its plans, moves behind the scenes are now forging ahead and League Express understands that the clubs are being sounded out on whether they are prepared to back the RFL’s vision for the game, with some club officials suggesting that the recent tribulations of Super League in having failed so far to agree a new broadcasting deal, as well as the costs incurred in an abortive attempt to introduce private equity funding, will be the factors that swing clubs around to a return to having one governing body.

The RFL is then confident that, with one governing body, the government will be more inclined to listen once more to arguments for further financial support.

On that front, League Express understands that the RFL has already had success in persuading the government to fund all the costs of Covid testing for all its clubs this season.

And the governing body is hoping that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson will give some guidance on Monday on when and how elite sport can begin planning for crowds to return to sporting events.

With the RFL having scheduled this year’s Challenge Cup Final for 17 July at Wembley, for example, it is anxious to get an indication as soon as possible as to what percentage of Wembley’s 90,000 capacity it can sell tickets for.

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