In response to a number of questions addressed to the Rugby League European Federation, the RLEF board can confirm that it established an official working group to explore the opportunity of establishing a professional, Pan-European club competition around six months ago, initially comprised of board members.
Such a European league would be sanctioned, owned and operated by the RLEF, played in major cities across Europe and, where appropriate, work with existing member federations.
Various models for the concept; its format and the potential structure of the league, governance, authorised club licensing and commercial operations have been drawn up, together with draft budget plans. To fund the new competition’s operations, the RLEF has held early discussions with potential investors.
“The RLEF sees the establishment of a major professional club league in Europe as an important step forward for the development of the whole game,” said RLEF chair Maurice Watkins, CBE. “Providing a pathway for European players of all nationalities, creating a sustainable asset for the sport, and raising the competitive standards of our member nations, are all areas that we are keen to drive forward and see further evolve.”
He added: “At this stage there has been no talk of which teams or nations will be involved and the exact timing of commencement, more the beginning of a process to assess viability. Such a competition could become a core part of our calendar. Revenue generated from it will be used to support international rugby league development and further expansion throughout the region.
“It would also support a number of programmes already operational, from coaching and grassroots initiatives to qualifying match officials.”
The RLEF has been made aware of another proposed competition – set up as a private enterprise initiative – following an initial meeting, which some of their members were invited to attend. For the avoidance of doubt, the Federation was informed of this meeting after it had taken place.
That group is not sanctioned by the governing body, however, the RLEF has already invited those behind the proposal to formally present to their working group. The RLEF is keen to hold discussions with investors who they can work with to progress the sport for the benefit of all.