Championship 1 expansion a gamble, says Skolars chief


London Skolars chief executive Hector McNeil believes the decision to add four new teams to Championship 1 from next season is a “gamble”.

The Skolars will at least have some smaller away journeys, with Hemel Stags and University of Gloucestershire All Golds both confirmed as joining the third tier from next season, with two further additions to be announced shortly.

But McNeil, who founded the Skolars back in 1995 and led them in to National League 2 in 2002, is fearful.

He said: “It’s a difficult one. I think it’s a gamble to be honest.

“We know how hard it has been and I think success will take many years. I am concerned that one of the new clubs still haven’t been announced. I think they have a mountain to climb.

“I do admire the ambition in this, but my experience in rugby league and business makes me fear. My biggest issue is that the established clubs in Championship 1 may have their business negatively impacted if the league becomes weak and standards on and off the field fall.

“Personally, I would have used the National Conference League as a fourth tier and given some of the target clubs a decent budget to hire good off field staff and watch it grow.

“I think Hemel will do the best of them all and by best, I don’t mean league position, I mean create a sustainable club that can support its aims.”

McNeil’s initial fears have perhaps already been realised by the withdrawal of Northampton Demons last week.

The Demons, who were due to be run by the town’s football club, had been the first new team to be revealed, but pulled out after falling behind in their plans.


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