Sky Sports presenter Brian Carney has expressed his anger at Toronto Wolfpack’s withdrawal from the remainder of the Super League season, and questioned their future.
The Canadian side stunned the rugby league world by announcing that they would not be participating in the 2020 competition, due to restart on August 2.
They have been hamstrung by issues relating to COVID-19, which has meant them having no home games in Toronto all year, while visa and pay problems have been reported in the press.
Carney told Sky Sports: “I’m surprised, shocked and angry.
“Not necessarily with the news, but the timing of it.
“I’m staggered that two weeks before the start of the season, this decision would be made. We’ve had four months, albeit four months of uncertainty, in which to deal with the issues that are now being raised by Toronto Wolfpack.
“I would to a large extent, absolve the other clubs and the governing body of Super League of any blame in this, it looks like the rug was pulled from under their feet with very late notice.
“It’s a black eye for the competition and the game, that two weeks before a much anticipated restart, one of the glamour sides, that signed Sonny Bill Williams, pulls out.
“More details will emerge. No club will have been hit harder than Toronto Wolfpack. They have had no home games in Toronto this year because of COVID.
“They signed Sonny Bill, there was a feelgood factory about their entry at the start of the year, and all that has gone up in a puff of smoke.
“I have concerns about their future beyond season 2020. If David Argyle is willing to pull out with two weeks to go, you have to put question marks against their future participation.
“There have continued to be problematic stories around players pay from Toronto Wolfpack not coming on time month after month, the club address it and they’re late a month after. These are stories reported back from the players, and they’ve never solved that problem.
Rugby league’s mad Monday
“Those visa issues have been around as long as Toronto have been in existence, and they have taken three or four years and haven’t solved the problem yet.
“Two weeks to go before the start of the season and they withdraw their services, and everybody is left scrambling from Super League to the other 11 clubs to the RFL to find a solution to this problem.
“It’s most unwelcome and it’s a dark day for the Super League competition.”
Toronto had lost all six of their Super League games in 2020, and were scheduled to play another 16 games.
Whether their records will be scrubbed from the competition or whether opposition clubs will receive two points for each game scheduled against the Wolfpack remains to be seen.
A statement from Toronto said they were hoping to return to action in 2021.
Featherstone, the side the Wolfpack beat in last season’s Championship Grand Final, have already come out and said they would be willing to fill the void left by Toronto for the rest of the year.