Time to return to one governing body

GARRY SCHOFIELD suggests that Super League should return to the aegis of the Rugby Football League

I thought it before the latest lockdown measures were introduced, and I’m even more convinced now.

We need to shelve the 2020 season as soon as possible and start planning for the following campaign.

And when the time comes, we have to be able to hit the ground running with a properly structured set of fixtures for all clubs in all divisions.

Even allowing for the many complications and the overall uncertainty caused by coronavirus, Super League has descended into a mess.

We’ve got to a situation where Warrington have technically played two games on the same day and won both.

A situation where one club, Leeds, has played six times while another, Catalans, hasn’t played at all.

Salford having to forfeit their game against Warrington because of a pile-up of injuries seems pretty tough, given their busy schedule.

And how is it that Wakefield have ended up playing St Helens, then Leeds, in successive matches?

I appreciate the need for flexibility in the current circumstances, but there has to be some kind of pattern to the fixture list to maintain credibility.

Many of the fans I speak to have become fed up with the situation, and feel this year’s league has become meaningless.

I’d go as far as to cancel the play-offs and Grand Final and end the action now, because I think we have to make the welfare of players – and their families – a priority and it’s been seen too many times already that it’s a real struggle to protect against Covid cases, which by the contact nature of the sport, can so easily spread.

Then we have to make a firm decision on whether Toronto Wolfpack have a future in the European game, at what level, and if they do return, what punishment will be handed out for pulling out midway through a season.

And we must make sure that if Ottawa Aces, or any other Transatlantic teams, are to join the competition, the business model is secure and that there is no repeat of the Toronto scenario. And let’s be fair, there were plenty of issues before the pandemic came along.

Regular readers of this column will know I’m sceptical about expansion into North America, because I think it is far too costly and fraught with impracticalities.

And I find it strange that people who haven’t seen the detail of the Wolfpack’s case for readmission are criticising people who have seen it and are asking questions about how robust it is.

We also have to look at the way the game is governed.

We all know Rugby League is skint, that Super League in its current form is dependent on the TV deal, and that it is due for renegotiation.

We’ve seen stories that Sky is looking to cut back on its previous spending of around £40m a season, and clearly that would have an impact across the board.

In many ways, it will be even more detrimental to the clubs outside the top-flight than those in it.

Some people want the game to follow football’s Premier League model and widen the gap between the divisions, but I’m not one of them.

I believe in the whole game, that the roots have to be strong to support growth, and that the competition and incentives provided by promotion and relegation are vital to our overall health.

The game is far from awash with money, and there’s a really obvious way to save some.

Let’s go back to one governing body, the RFL, because to put it bluntly, I don’t see Super League earning its keep.

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.