Assessing 5 possible locations for new League 1 club including France and Yorkshire

Aaron Bower

Photo credit: A Francois

The Rugby Football League have confirmed that they are formally accepting invitations for a new club to join League 1 in 2025.

Applications are now officially open for a new club to join League 1 next year to boost the numbers in the third tier, with the eventual outcome that both Championship and League 1 will have 12 teams competing in them.

With the expectation in some quarters that the number of professional teams would shrink under IMG, it actually appears that the number is set to increase in the years ahead. With that in mind, Love Rugby League has run the rule over five possible locations and options for a new League 1 club.


Perhaps the most likely option as things stand – not least because we know that Carcassonne have already lodged an application to join League 1.

That application was for the 2026 season but it is already submitted and could easily be brought forwards, if Elite 1 is seen as an ideal place for the game to look for its next professional club. In their statement late last year, Carcassonne admitted that IMG would rule on their application in 2025: but if it carries weight and merit, perhaps they could be brought in sooner than anyone initially expected.

A leading amateur club

Love Rugby League has been told that a number of clubs competing in the National Conference League have been put on notice and are strongly considering lodging an application to enter League 1.

It would be a controversial move given the game’s previous desire to expand as far and wide as possible, but the advantage of an amateur club in the heartlands joining League 1 means they are better prepared infrastructure-wise and from a player pool standpoint than any new start-up. With clubs considering submitting an application, it could easily become an option. It wouldn’t be difficult to envisage clubs like Wigan St Patricks and Siddal stepping up to League 1 in terms of ability, after all.

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A second London team

Granted, it’s only a matter of mere months since London Skolars withdrew from League 1. And there’s no guaranteeing the game even has an appetite for a second London club.

But with IMG constantly admitting that the capital is a target area for growth, if the right investment and proposal can be put together, could a second London club come back onto the scene in the professional game? The Southern Conference League has a flurry of teams – including Skolars themselves – who could step back up if the investment and financial deal is right. It would be a great boost for the game to get a second London team back on the map.

London Skolars
London Skolars in action against Doncaster in 2019 – Alamy


Granted, this would make the geographical spread of League 1 perhaps too vast, with trips to Cornwall and Scotland to factor in for teams in 2025 – assuming Cornwall don’t win promotion this year, of course.

But there is a grass-roots programme to speak of in Scotland, and Edinburgh Eagles are now regularly competing in the Challenge Cup. They made it to Round Two of this year’s competition, but were heavily beaten by Lock Lane. However, much like the London situation, if the investment and the promise of central distribution is there, could Scotland gain a semi-professional team?

An Armed Forces club

It’s a long shot: but hear us out. Rugby league has a long and proud tradition with the armed forces dating all the way back to the First and Second World War.

This April marks the 30th anniversary of forces teams being allowed to play rugby league, and with the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force all regularly competing in the cup, is there an avenue for a semi-professional team combining the best talent the Armed Forces has to offer? It would perhaps be a stretch when it comes to things like player availability, but it would be a great thing for league to pride itself upon, having a club which represents such proud heritage.

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