Sawyer slams EGM proposal

Dewsbury Rams Chairman Mark Sawyer says the RFL proposal on the table for Friday’s EGM about the league structure is “totally unpalatable” and if accepted, would make the Championship and League One unviable from 2022.

Sawyer, who has been at the helm with the Rams for almost 20 years, says the reduced share of central funding that is being proposed would make it impossible to run clubs at that level.

He has warned other chairmen outside the top flight not to vote for it this Friday, after the Championship and League One clubs put their own vision of the future to the RFL over the weekend.

There are two key details in that plan that differ from the proposal on the table from the governing body, which Sawyer claims is effectively a Super League document.

The first is that Championship and League One clubs want to retain the current percentage they receive from any television deal, whether that increases or decreases.

The proposal from the RFL sees that percentage drop if the next TV deal stays the same, and offers no guarantees at all if it dips below £35 million per year in total, although League Express understands that figure could be lowered before Friday.

The other element the Championship and League One clubs want to see implemented is a second promotion spot made available to the top-flight each year, even if that is some kind of play-off with the next-to-bottom Super League side.

Sawyer told League Express: “I’m extremely disappointed with the proposal, and to be quite honest I think it’s a Super League proposal and not an RFL one.

“As Championship and League One clubs we have been working behind the scenes to try and get to a resolution.

“While we’ve not had as many opportunities to meet and discuss as other parties have, we were committed to meeting Robert Elstone and the RFL.

“But for whatever reason that hasn’t happened, even though we made ourselves available.

“The initial Ian Lenagan proposal was totally unacceptable and we were trying to get to a point that would be accepted by both parties, but if anything the new proposal has gone backwards.

“In terms of sharing the money it is now a reduced offer to the one that Ian Lenagan put forward.

“In my opinion there would be no meaningful Championship and League One after 2021 if this proposal is accepted.

“As somebody who has been involved in the sport for 18 years I know the ins and outs of running a club at this level, and it would become totally unviable.

“The reality is that the RFL would need to take the vast majority of what they are offering to continue to run, and the Championship and League One clubs would be left with almost nothing.

“Even if there are threats that there will be nothing at all after 2022 I don’t think we’ve got anything to lose in turning this deal down now.

“In my 18 years involvement in the sport I’ve never gone to the press with anything negative about the RFL, so you can see how strongly I feel about this.

“The deal is totally unpalatable and can’t possibly be accepted.

“My message to other clubs is to think long and hard about going in with a Super League proposal that is coming under the guise of the RFL.”