Super League clubs narrowly reject move to draw closer to RFL

Top flight clubs last week narrowly opposed a plan to re-merge Super League and the Rugby Football League’s governance of the sport, League Express can reveal.

All 12 Super League sides were last week asked to consider a detailed proposal tabled by a Super League working group, which had been appointed by the Super League clubs two months earlier, analysing in detail whether the leading clubs – who orchestrated a breakaway from the RFL two years ago – should consider joining forces again with the RFL.

And League Express understands that the proposal to table the document to a future Super League board meeting was turned down by the narrowest of margins: 7-5, with Wigan owner Ian Lenagan reportedly instrumental in ensuring Super League and Robert Elstone (pictured) continue as an independent body.

Clubs who opposed the plans to re-merge governance were of the belief that Super League and Elstone should be given the opportunity to see through the main responsibility of delivering a new broadcast deal, with negotiations well underway.

One club executive, who did not wish to be named, said: “To pull the plug on all of that now and potentially talk of re-merging wasn’t right. Negotiations are ongoing regarding broadcast deals and we didn’t want to compromise that.”

Clubs also have one eye on a crucial meeting of the RFL’s board today (Monday), when the matter of promotion and relegation this season could be settled.

Although there is no guarantee that a decision will be made on whether to scrap relegation from Super League this season, top-flight clubs are growing increasingly uneasy about the prospect of restarting with the possibility of relegation on the table.

Many suggest that it would be unfair to relegate a team such as Toronto, for example, when they may not play a single home game this year.

Similarly, other clubs have had players concerned about playing because they have vulnerable family members, leaving many clubs feeling as though the integrity of the game could be compromised if a team is allowed to be relegated in such unique circumstances.

This is an amended version of a story that first appeared in this week’s League Express.