Toronto Wolfpack have dramatically withdrawn from the remainder of the 2020 Super League season.
The Wolfpack confirmed that a number of factors resorted in the club facing financial challenges that made their involvement in the competition untenable.
But it is a huge hammer blow for both the club, in just its fourth season, and the Super League competition, with the sport returning in less than two weeks time.
Toronto were also facing starting the season without a full team due to visa issues which threatened to see six of their overseas players forced to leave the country.
Beyond that, players haven’t been paid for the month of June and hadn’t reported back for training.
They have also pulled out of the Challenge Cup.
In a statement, the Wolfpack said: “The COVID pandemic has presented unexpected and overwhelming financial challenges to the Wolfpack organization. Greatly reduced ticket, sponsorship, merchandise and game day revenue streams have resulted from the loss of all 11 of the team’s home Super League games in Toronto. The Wolfpack would be left covering significant additional costs simply to complete a season of games in the UK including COVID testing, stadium rentals, medical costs and player pay increases to align with the rest of the league.
“Player and staff payroll, an issue of recent media attention, has been guaranteed by Wolfpack majority owner David Argyle and is secured by a personal guarantee to the RFL. Refunds for all 2020 single game tickets, as well as season membership refunds that have been requested by individual fans, will be returned by the club to Ticketmaster in the near future in order for the refund process to be fulfilled.”
The news has taken the entire sport by surprise, even Super League itself, who say they will now consider Toronto’s future in the competition.
“Super League Europe and The RFL have been in regular dialogue with the Wolfpack over the past weeks and months regarding the club’s ability to take part in the competition and firm assurances had been received as recently as last Thursday, 16 July,” the said in a statement.
“The club’s decision is especially disappointing given the imminent restart of the season. Our immediate focus is on getting the season back underway on August 2 and meeting the needs of our host broadcaster, Sky Sports.
“A discussion around the longer term consequences and the future of the Wolfpack in Super League will commence shortly.”