Last week in League Express, editor Martyn Sadler invited the six Championship clubs that are vying for the twelfth place in next year’s Super League competition to each submit a statement of around 300 words to set out why they should be selected by the panel chaired by Lord Caine to take up that vacant spot.
Here’s how they responded, with their statements coming directly from the clubs themselves, and as you will see, they have adopted markedly distinct approaches to setting out the rationale for their applications.
Bradford’s Super League contribution can be summarised as: 3 World Club Challenge successes, 6 Super League Grand Final appearances featuring 3 wins, and 2 Challenge Cup triumphs, and 3 League Leaders’ Shields.
A Super League record attendance of 24,020 and regular attendances over 15,000. No club did more to epitomise the brave new summer offer of Super League than the Bradford Bulls, with a vibrant gameday experience and extensive community and development programmes.
The club’s Academy is one of the most productive in the sport. The alumni of Super League graduates is too long to list, with over 40 players going on to become Internationals, including Whitehead, Bateman, Peacock, Pryce, Fielden and the Burgess brothers.
The current ownership group has experienced, local business operators who have the best interests of the club and the city at heart. The owners recognise the fundamental need to rebuild trust, both with club’s supporters and the wider game, a process that has certainly begun.
The club’s vision is to become the leading corporate citizen in the district, a force for civic pride and good, a provider of hope, aspiration and employment for local players and supporters. Its mission is to play at the highest level of domestic Rugby League in an appropriate 21st century facility, making a full contribution to the whole sport.
Our application is built around six key facts:
A proven SL club adding value to the competition and capable of so doing again;
A comprehensive community engagement programme built around a mature Charitable Foundation;
A performance department already well resourced with one of the most productive Academies in the sport;
An experienced and responsible management team with proven track records;
A measured and proportionate business plan based around medium to long term planning cycles;
A plan to deliver one of Rugby League’s iconic stadiums into a facility fit for the 21st century
Featherstone Rovers is more than what many assume.
We believe the club brings the most of what matters in Rugby League, and we confirmed through the application process that we are in a great place to meet the demands of Super League.
We have been building towards gaining a Super League place for years and were only 20 minutes away in the 2019 Championship Grand Final. The current squad possesses a plethora of players with considerable Super League and NRL experience and the club has a full-time performance department based at a fantastic training centre at the Millennium Stadium.
In the most recent Return on Investment audit, Featherstone Rovers ranked first for financial performance measured against all Championship and League 1 clubs. This validates our sustainability and the robust financial procedures we have established. The last five years have delivered significant developments to both infrastructure and the stadium, which is regarded as one of the best sporting venues in West Yorkshire.
The return of two genuine derby fixtures against Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity, alongside rivalries with Leeds Rhinos, Hull FC, and Hull KR, will bring ten intense and meaningful fixtures to Super League in 2021. From a broadcast perspective, full stadiums, positive tribalism and our club centenary will add to the marketing stories and will light up the Super League.
Featherstone Rovers are a great example of a club that has proven to be resilient, ambitious, and dependable whilst facing adversity across the area. The club is proud of our heritage, takes delight in the sport we play, and supports communities through our Foundation. We have shown persistence, sustainability, adaptability, innovation and lots of sheer drive. Those are attributes that all Rugby League clubs will need over the coming years. It’s already in our DNA and we are ready in the club’s centenary year.
It would be disrespectful towards our amazing 430-page document and the effort put into producing it to attempt to sum it up in 300 words.
Leigh Centurions cannot comment on what makes it more viable than other applications without sight of them. Whilst we are extremely proud of what we have produced, we also acknowledge the other applicants will feel exactly the same.
Only the tasked panel can possibly give any overview on the chances, which will only be provided by way of announcing the result, as only the panel are aware of all the facts.
Leigh Centurions have complete faith in the skills and attributes of the panel, reinforced by their objectives of providing for the best interests of the sport. There is a legal representative from each organisation, and similarly with finance directors. A respected performance manager with a solid understanding of the playing side along with a marketing manager with an innovative proven track record, all of whom are chaired by Lord Caine, whose name and reputation speaks for itself.
It is the panel that will determine the outcome, not the weight of public opinion fuelled by the media. We have such confidence in their ability and approach to providing what is best for the sport, in particular in these difficult, unprecedented times of uncertainty, that irrespective of which club they chose, we would accept the decision on the basis they were better positioned to reach that decision than anyone else.
If that was Bradford, then I would accept they must have been a better proposition based on the application submitted. The name of the club is irrelevant. That’s not what is being measured, it’s the criteria requested and supporting information. Our strengths are plain and publicly available to see. Visible Cash, SL Squad, World Cup Facility. #SUPERLEAGUEREADY.
From our owner David Hughes, a private man, and throughout the rest of our club we pride ourselves on being dignified and respectful and as a club we firmly believe we tick the boxes required in the criteria and long before this process had already started work on a number of projects that will see the club meeting the required standard of Super League in every single aspect without making our ambitions public.
These exciting developments have taken months to implement and are still a work in progress but we are hopefully close to fruition and we expect to be able to announce these soon.
Our Academy is regarded as one of the biggest expansion success stories in the British game and for the benefit of the game as a whole for a number of years, producing talent that has gone on to win International Honours, Super League Grand Finals and Challenge Cups.
On the field our staff are of equal high regard with one of the brightest young coaching groups in the game. Danny Ward is a charismatic Head Coach with a thoughtful and modern approach to the game of Rugby League gaining fans around the sport for his approach to Super League in 2019 that saw us miss out on survival on points difference.
A structured plan for both community development and commercial aspects of the club is in place and the response has been fantastic.
Commercially brands are continuing to want to partner with the Broncos, despite the difficult times many are facing, and we have many partnerships ready to reveal for 2021.
We have put forward a strong case for the Broncos to be in SL 2021 and, of course, feel that we are one of the stands out candidates for a place in the sports Premium competition. Every sport has at least one strong London side and this opens doors in the media and commercially that Rugby League especially needs as a National game.
Super League is the main goal of Toulouse Olympique XIII and we are convinced we can achieve fantastic things TOgether.
Our Club has many strong assets, as it:
is well run – no insolvency events over the last 13 years;
is financially sustainable in the long term – €1.8m of sponsorship revenue;
develops talents – strong Academy, reserve team, 14 French Internationals over the last 10 years;
has a successful team in every category and a strong community programme – 400 registered players from U5, a women and a wheelchair team, 2,000 schoolchildren;
is competitive – 2nd best team of the 2019 regular season, strong squad for 2021 which returned to full training (standard A) on the 2nd December;
plays in a high-quality stadium – 18,784 capacity;
proposes an innovative and exciting development plan, with significant potential and controlled expansion – Toulouse area (1.3m inhabitants), partnership with RU giants Stade Toulousain (€33m budget / 510k followers on Facebook), derbies with the Catalans, Magic Weekend 2022;
has strong supports – Catalan Dragons, Stade Toulousain and French RL Chairmen, Toulouse Mayor, Trent ROBINSON, etc;
ROI is key and we believe we have a lot to offer to the Super League, its members and its main broadcaster:
Toulouse: A major city which carries weight in France, a new market and many economic opportunities (sponsors, TV);
Sky Sports: A beautiful stadium that projects well on TV, an entertaining team;
Fans: A trip to be remembered in the ‘Pink City’ / A Toulouse Olympique fan club in Manchester (120 members);
International game: We want France to beat England… and when that happens, we will have ALL succeeded.
Even if we have to deal with more tough Covid-19 waves we are confident we can manage it, as did the Catalan Dragons through the worst times of the pandemic.
We are ready and very excited to be part of Super League 2021!
York City Knights
The season launch at the famous York Railway Station has delivered unique photo opportunities at the National Railway Museum, York Minster, Clifford’s Tower and down by the famous rivers Ouse and Foss.
The national media have embraced the iconic and historic city, accessed easily via rail from London, Manchester and Leeds, with enthusiasm and new vigour. Sponsors, and the media, new and established, enjoyed an evening dinner, followed by a walking tour encompassing the Minster, The Shambles and many of the 366 pubs in the city! The buzz is of new beginnings, a new team and a competition which looks and feels very different from before.
The opening game of the season on TV pits the new kids on the block, York City Knights, led by a young, English head coach against the Challenge Cup victors of 2020 and historic giants, Leeds Rhinos.
All the talk of the week has been of the unknowns, whilst momentum has built through the new enthusiasm and intrigue around a new entrance to the competition. Digital media has exploded as engagement for the sport focus the young and old to the future and not the distant past.
The matchday cameras begin to roll; Images moving between shots of the York Minster adorned with a projected Super League logo, and crowds of fans flocking through the turnstiles with smiles of happiness as they witness their first Super League game in the number one tourist city in the North.
The corporate suites are awash with new companies to our sport keen to enjoy a very special night to remember. The new pitch is immaculate as the camera pans 360 degrees to show LED adverts proudly displaying high-profile local, national and international brands known to the viewers across the nation.
Traditional and ‘New Media’ broadcasters fill the press areas as this is not a game to be missed, hosted in a brand new £50m stadium complex. The atmosphere is electric and every available seat is sold out!
Live Rugby League is back, Super League is alive and kicking, the game is going to new heights in new places.
That is exciting, that is also a reality of what is possible. This is why we believe York City Knights offer an added-value proposition to Super League and to the RFL like no other.
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