Sheffield coach Mark Aston suggests increasing the size of the Championship

Sheffield coach Mark Aston has thrown forward his idea for a restructure of rugby league – which involves increasing the size of the Championship and leaving League 1 to become a “development league”.

The Eagles are not in danger of relegation to the third tier this year, and instead are heading for the semi-finals of the Championship Shield despite another testing season on the field.

But Aston told the Sheffield Star that in order for the second tier to thrive – as well as the clubs in League 1 who could benefit from playing at a higher level – the RFL should look at putting more teams into the Championship.

“Toronto have done what they have done, and why wouldn’t they? They have the finances and a full-time squad to deliver,” he said. “York will have a new stadium soon, and when they get that they will improve the fan base. That’s great for the development of the sport.

“There are clubs with history that probably should be back up here. I think it has to be looked at. Whether that is making the Championship bigger, or two leagues, I don’t know.”

Aston also identified a number of clubs currently playing in League 1 who he feels have the capabilities to thrive at a higher level.

He said: “There are teams in the league below who deserve to be in the Championship. I’d make this league bigger and then have the one below as a development league. The standard below is possibly not at the level that some of the teams are accustomed to.

“You have the likes of York, Whitehaven, Workington, Barrow, Keighley, Hunslet and Doncaster in there. That’s no disrespect to the other teams, but the standard gets lower if we don’t keep playing and challenging the players in those clubs.”