Uncertainty regarding Ottawa’s 2020 arrival

RALPH RIMMER has reiterated that Ottawa will be given as much time as possible to enter the league structure next season amid serious doubt they will be ready in time for 2020.

The Canadian club, spearheaded by Toronto Wolfpack founder Eric Perez, was provisionally approved to enter the league structure next season on condition that they could overcome some undisclosed hurdles.

League Express understands that progress has been slow, with one of the main issues based around their membership rights upon entry.

Rimmer, speaking on last Thursday’s Rugby League BackChat TV programme, admitted that work was ongoing, and while he wouldn’t go as far as saying they were behind schedule, he admitted there is still work to be done.

“It’s important that when they do come in they’re a credit to the competition and aren’t vulnerable in any way,” the RFL’s chief executive said.

“New York and Ottawa were given the same pathway, but on different timescales. Ottawa have been given the opportunity to join in 2020 provided they get over certain hurdles between now and then.

“Should they do that, they’ll be in the fixture list come November. If not, they’ll get pushed to 2021. Likewise, New York have been given the same trajectory, but it will be for entry in 2021.

“It’s really important that we do our due diligence properly, it’s very easy to say ‘everybody in, we’ll see you there’. But we’ve got the concerns of the rest of our stakeholders in there, we’ve got the reputation of the competition to think about. When they arrive, we want them to arrive in great shape.”

When asked if it was unrealistic to think they can be ready for next season with work still ongoing, Rimmer replied: “Potentially, but the timescale is laid out.

“If they get delayed, they get delayed. The difference between the two offers was that Ottawa has an in-built sporting infrastructure with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. They have an ability to sell a ticket tomorrow, they have an ability to market tomorrow, they even have some athletes there ready to take it on too.

“New York are a bit further away than that. Ottawa have a distinct advantage, but nevertheless they still have to get over the hurdles to arrive in November and get themselves in the fixture list.”

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