Super League clubs will meet this Thursday to further discuss the competition’s return to play and a possible adjustment of the salary cap in 2021.
Three proposals for the resumption of the season, all designed around an August restart, were revealed last week, with each having different end dates in November, December and January.
The first option, with a Grand Final on 28 November, appears to be the most popular as it would compromise the 2021 season less than the other options and it would also avoid the issue of player contracts, which all expire, for those players coming out of contract, on November 30th. Under that pattern of fixtures, the Challenge Cup Final would be played on 25 October, the same date as the revised NRL Grand Final.
However, there is also support for the other two options and clubs are set to discuss the possibilities on Thursday.
All three proposals will see the first two weekends of August being used to play games that were postponed before the lockdown before a full return on the weekend of August 15/16th. That means that the Catalans Dragons, for example, would play three games in the first part of the month, while Leeds, Wakefield and Huddersfield would have two each, and St Helens, Toronto and Hull Kingston Rovers would have one each.
The number of teams reaching the play-offs has been reduced to four, with the play-offs going straight to a semi-final before a Grand Final a week later.
An August return has been devised to satisfy the competition’s main broadcast partner, Sky Sports, to allow clubs to benefit from furloughing and to provide a greater possibility for games to be played in front of crowds from October onwards, though several clubs believe that is an optimistic outlook.
The salary cap is also up for discussion, though importantly there are no plans at the time of writing for a vote to take place.
Salford are the key club in the argument over the cap, with a proposal to reduce it by almost 15 per cent to £1.8 million on the table.
Eleven clubs have already stated their views. The six Yorkshire clubs in the competition are in favour of the reduction while Catalans, St Helens, Toronto, Warrington and Wigan are opposed to a reduction.
Salford, however, have yet to show their hand. If and when a vote takes place, it is they who will determine a majority or a split. Should they vote against the reduction, the RFL would then have the deciding vote and the governing body would be expected to vote in favour of the salary cap remaining at £2.1 million.
Another issue the clubs are keen to get an answer on is promotion and relegation, though that is proving difficult while the future of the Championship and League 1 seasons are up in the air. Should those seasons be null and void, the matter becomes irrelevant.