DONCASTER CEO Carl Hall has insisted Super League clubs’ desire for change is down to the fact they are terrified of being caught up by the game’s ambitious sides outside the top flight as all 38 professional clubs prepare to sit down together for the first time this year today (Monday).
With no decision still made on the long-term direction of the league structure, all club chief executives from Super League down to League 1 will meet and begin to formulate a plan for the sport’s future in this country: though it looks increasingly likely no major changes will be implemented for 2019.
Some quarters of Super League are believed to be interested in an idea whereby League 1 would be ‘de-regulated’, essentially making that competition amateur. That idea, however, is almost certainly unlikely to receive a majority approval.
And Hall told League Express ahead of that meeting that the sport has never been stronger outside Super League: but the top-tier is ‘going backwards’.
“The Super League clubs are scared stiff about the Super 8s this year, because there could be three, or even four, Championship clubs who could realistically take their spots at the big table and they’re terrified,” he said.
“Our owners could easily be one of the richest in the game if they wanted to throw their money about without much thought, but their remit for us was based around whether they could see a way to get the club to the top.
“I think Leigh going up through the Qualifiers two years ago changed the game somewhat – before that, why would wealthy owners invest only to see their clubs not really have a chance of Super League? Now, we know the promised land is possible, and there could be more than one or two who fancy it this year: so don’t try tell me this system isn’t working.”
Hall also insists that the prospect of pumping money currently given to League 1 clubs into Super League to help compete with the NRL is a worthless idea.
“If we’re going to be restructuring, shouldn’t we be doing it from the grass roots level up, not from the top down?” he said.
“People in charge at certain clubs have said they’re losing hundreds of thousands of pounds, and I just wonder if by doing what they’re trying to do, they’re just trying to cut some of their losses by cutting down the teams in League 1?
“They’re all terrified of the NRL and their salary cap – but if they think half a million quid here and there is going to stop our best players going or help us sign superstars well.. I can’t see it.”
Hall also said the progression of Championship and League 1 under the current system is there for all to see, adding: “League 1 now is where the Championship was four years ago; if you look back, that was a real tough league and we’re getting as strong in League 1 now.
“A few years ago, a few League 1 clubs were put out of the Challenge Cup by community clubs but that just doesn’t happen anymore, and it proves the league is stronger than it’s ever been. Has it taken some time?
“Yes, and if clubs like Coventry were doing what they’re doing now – with their focus on local players and being at the heart of their community – then they’d be way ahead of where they are, and that’s encouraging. Other clubs have gone from outside their community to sign all sorts of players and it’s proven that it just doesn’t work. The Championship has kicked on too – I honestly believe the game is progressing fantastically well outside of Super League, but Super League has gone backwards.”