Batley boss “very worried” by uncertainty over league re-structure

Craig Lingard Batley Bulldogs SWpix
Photo: Ed Sykes/SWpix

Batley boss Craig Lingard says clubs need to know as soon as possible how the rugby league landscape may be reshaped in order to avoid serious financial danger.

The arrival of global management company IMG has prompted speculation over revised league formats for coming seasons, and many clubs feel completely in the dark according to the Bulldogs coach whose side are fourth in the Championship after an away win at Super League hopefuls Featherstone.

And speaking exclusively on the latest Love Rugby League Podcast, Lingard has demanded clarity.

“I think it is very worrying. Regardless of the format, clubs need to know as soon as possible,” he says.

“It’s ridiculous. How can we as a club who don’t want to get into financial trouble, run a viable business? We don’t want to put the club into serious financial danger, but don’t know what the structure is going to be or the implications based on where we finish in the league.

“We didn’t even know two weeks before the season what format this season was going to take. Some clubs probably overspent because they were worried about the two leagues of ten coming in. The clubs weren’t informed and they need to know as soon as possible. Clubs are now doing retention and recruitment for next season. They’re trying to work out a budget without knowing the format the league is going to take.”

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Lingard calls for transparency

Earlier this season Featherstone called for Super League to be expanded to 14 teams to incorporate them and Leigh, the two standout teams at the top of this season’s Championship. There are also suggestions for two tiers of 10; and Lingard feels that whatever direction is decided, there needs to be immediate transparency. 

He said: “Some clubs are now recruiting and retaining based on the scary fact that they could suddenly decide in a month or six weeks time that next season if you are not in the top six in the Championship you are effectively a community club and won’t get funding from anybody. 

“We need to know now so clubs can get their finances in order, not overspend and potentially not pay players half way through the season when they have overcommitted based on not having had any information from anybody.”


Two divisions of 14?

Lingard says he favours expansion rather than streamlining, backing Featherstone’s calls for a 14-team Super League. 

He added: “I would go two divisions of 14. Featherstone and Leigh have proven over a long period of time now that they have the finances, resources and wherewithal to go up into Super League

“Whether they would survive or not I don’t know. But for any other club I don’t think at the minute any could realistically go into Super League and survive without coming down the following year. 

“I would go to 14 and 14 with no relegation or promotion for two years. Clubs have long enough to prepare for that third year. That two-year period would give clubs time to put finances and squad-building in place to survive without being a yo-yo club.”

PODCAST: Craig Lingard on Championship recruitment rules, Batley & two divisions of 14?

LOVE RUGBY LEAGUE: All the latest news, Podcast, App & Fantasy RL


  1. I’m not too keen on the idea of suspending promotion and relegation regardless that the club could well be called yo-yo club….what is left for clubs and players to aspire to???…

  2. Will it be possible to have a real work with french federation . Personnaly I’m not “officially” involved, but I’ve got some vision. Just for your information I wrote a book around the topic for france’sake, but not only. Book :Un Coq en HiverS ( in french ) Pascal F

  3. Yes fourteen teams keeps the french sides in for expansion. Relegation after the second season one team only,would make make better viewing for tv with more unprdictable games for fans

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