Licence Decisions – LIVE

[b]E-mail me at tony.williams@lasttackle.com and I will aim to get as many of your comments online as possible. Alternatively, post your comments in our franchise section of the Lasttackle boards, by clicking HEREnn[/b]nnn[b]11.56[/b] It’s been a historic day for rugby league and no doubt the debate will go on and on. But for now I’m signing off here. Keep checking back to LastTackle.com for news and opinion.nnThanks to everyone who dropped in over the last 24 hours and best wishes to all the teams, especially those that missed out. nnn[b]11.44[/b] Great news for the expansionists: Super League next season will be played in five countries. England, France and Wales will boast Super League clubs while Catalans Dragons will be taking a game to Spain and Murrayfield Magic will take the league to Scotland.nnn[b]11.32[/b] It is interesting to note that the RFL expressed concern about Widnes’ ability to compete in Super League within “club-trained rules” but expressed no such concerns about Celtic Crusaders. The same concern was expressed for Toulouse.nnSalford’s success appears to be connected to their new stadium plans, proximity to Manchester and youth development. nnThe RFL appear skeptical of Wakefield’s stadium plans and lack of commercial targets. Despite increases in attendances and playing strength local players are often not retained. The Wildcats appear to have had the weakest application from inside Super League.nnn[b]11.23[/b] The RFL website ([b]www.therfl.co.uk[/b]) is back up and runing with the headline proclaming “geographical expansion”. It includes a very brief summary of each club’s bid which makes for interesting reading.nnn[b]11.17[/b] Dual-code Welsh international Jonathon Davies has given his support to Celtic Crusaders’ place in Super League on [b]Sporting Life[/b].nn”We missed the boat in both 1995 and 1998 when a Super League side could have been placed down here but this decision more than makes up for it.nn”Now, more of an infrastructure is in place with teams at all levels in Wales from schoolboys upwards, which wasn’t the case 10 years ago.nn”When teams like Wigan, St Helens and the like have visited Wales in the past for one-off Super League games, they’ve always been well attended.nn”The Welsh public love top-level sport and I’m sure that Celtic Crusaders will be a great success in Super League. I’d like to thank the RFL for giving us the opportunity and roll on 2009.”nnnn[b]11.08[/b] There is a strong body of opinion on [b]Sky Sports News[/b] and on internet message boards, including Last Tackle, that disagrees with the inclusion of Celtic Crusaders.nnMany of the opponents are supportive of Widnes, many can’t believe that the Vikings missed out.nnOn the other hand many people emphatically support the Crusaders and what they will bring to Super League. What’s your opinion?nnn[b]10.53[/b] Harlequins co-owner David Hughes said he supported the license system and had been confident of Quins’ inclusion in Super League.nnHughes gave his support to Celtic Crusaders and said a midlands team should be included in 2012 to “bridge the gap” between north and south.nnn[b]10.50[/b] Wakefield coach John Kear admitted he felt a little relieved after it was announced the Wildcats would stay in Super League.nnKear added that he wanted Trinity to be seen as competitors rather than survivors and cited Catalans Dragons as an example of how a franchise should work.nnn[b]10.43[/b] Widnes chairman Steve O’Connor said he had to be grown up and take responsibilty for getting the club into Super League in the future as fans sang “Widnes ’til I die” in the background.nnO’Connor said he wanted to understand the RFL’s decision but accepted the process and wished Celtic and Salford well for the next three years,nnn[b]10.38[/b] Salford chairman John Wilkinson OBE says the RFL’s decision is the indication that the Reds deserve their place in the top flight. nnSalford’s academy is a major plus according to Wilkinson and the franchise system will allow young players to be brought through without the threat of relegation.nnNow that the bid is successful Wilkinson fails to mention Salford’s new stadium. nnn[b]10.32[/b] The RFL and Super League websites are down, probably due to so many people trying to get on. Local news websites have already started to bring the news of their clubs’ successes.nnOn Last Tackle’s forum the consensus is that Widnes can feel a little hard done to, although opinion is divided on whether Salford or Celtic deserved to get in.nnBoth those teams along with Wakefield and Castleford have a lot to prove it seems. E-mail me with your opinion or log onto our forums.nnn[b]10.18[/b] Celtic Crusaders chief executive Dave Thompson says that his club have a lot of work to do to ensure they can compete over the three years.nnThe club can build on crowds above the National League average and it is “a massive day” for rugby league in Wales. Crusaders can make a success of Super League.nnn[b]10.16[/b] Richard Lewis says that the decision was very difficult and that the current Super League clubs were in no way gurenteed a place in Super League.nnAccording to Lewis Celtic Crusaders’ inclusion builds on the success of rugby league in Wales. The Crusaders will be staying at Brewery Field in Bridgend for the short-term future.nnLewis says that Castleford’s stadium is well advanced and implies that Wakefield will be “sighing a sigh of relief”. Widnes should feel proud despite their exclsion from the top flight.nnn[b]10.11[/b] No real surprise from the RFL: the current 12 clubs are in along with Salford City Reds and Celtic Crusaders. Those clubs will be ecstatic but those that missed out will be very disappointed.nnn[b]10.05[/b] The clubs are:n nBradford BullsnCastleford TigersnCatalans DragonsnCeltic CrusadersnHarlequinsnHuddersfield GiantsnHull FCnHull Kingston RoversnLeeds RhinosnSalford City RedsnSt HelensnWakefield Trinity WildcatsnWarrington WolvesnWigan Warriorsnnn[b]10.00[/b] The announcement is beginning as I type. RFL chairman Richard Lewis declares licensing will benefit the sport through stability and that rugby league is leading the way in British sport. Currently he is explaining how the system will work and what it will bring to the game. nnLewis says that there will still be a way for clubs to get into Super League and that the RFl has plans to ensure the future of the National Leagues.nnn[b]09.54[/b] Many of the applicants will now know whether they are in Super League next season or not. The RFL’s announcement will come within the next 15 minutes so don’t go anywhere else!nnn[b]09.31[/b] Widnes Vikings chairman Steve O’Connor is next to appear on [b]Sky Sports News[/b]. He’s decided instead of getting the RFL’s confirmation by e-mail he will watch the press conference live and react like any other fan.nnO’Connor says he is “excited and positive” about the Vikings’ chances, adding that to be in contention at this stage is a success in itself.nnO’Connor had also given his assurances that he will remain at the club for three years should the bid fail to build the club in NL1 and launch another bid for Super League at the second opportunity. nnn[b]09.24[/b] Tony Rae has appeared on [b]Sky Sports News[/b] repeating the arguments about stability and rugby league becoming a modern sport.nnThe former Harlequins coach added that perhaps Hull KR should be worried, but not too much, along with Wakefield and Castleford.nnAs for the clubs outside Super League, Rae told us that Halifax and Featherstone are without a realistic chance. Widnes, Salford and Celtic Crusaders are the favourites but Leigh and Toulouse are in with a shout.nnI think he’s probably right, but can’t understand why Halifax are such outsiders when you compare their bid to Celtic Crusaders, all due respect to the Welsh club. nnn[b]09.17 Sky Sports News[/b] have said that the licensing system will benefit the national team and rugby league in this country by removing the uncertainty of relegation.nnThe news channel have speculated that the 12 current clubs are likely to be awarded franchises, but Wakefield may be threatened purely because of their stadium.nnThe decision according to [b]Sky[/b] is unprecedented and every bit as momentous as it appears.nnn[b]09.07[/b] Less than an hour until the announcement. Anyone else feeling the tension yet? I’ve never felt this tense away from an actual game.nnThe RFL’s official website tells us that a brief summary of each of the applicants’ bid will appear on the site. Does that means they will go public with the logic behind their decision making?nnn[b]08.51[/b] I’ve had an e-mail asking which teams I think will be given franchises. The answer is I have no idea, and I can’t decide.nnI’ve had lots of opinions about the whole licensing thing, but when it comes who will get one I just don’t know. There have been so many rumours and so much dis-information out there but the RFL have succeeded in keeping the decision secret, hence the confilcting newspaper headlines.nnThe scenario as I see it is that all the current Super League clubs are safe bar Castleford and Wakefield. That leaves four spots free, and those places will go to four out of Castleford, Wakefield, Celtic, Salford, Widnes and Toulouse. nnn[b]08:46[/b] It’s now less than sixty minutes until the clubs will be informed of the RFL’s decision.nnGoing back to the [b]Sporting Life[/b] article it was interesting to note the part which said clubs will not launch a legal challenge because they have been through a consultation process with the RFL.nnBack when Super League started out in 1996 one or two clubs did launch legal challenges against the RFL after missing out. Presumably there was no consultation process then.nnA cynic might say that the clubs have to play along or exlcude themselves from Super League, but the fact that the RFL have this agreement could suggest that they really have gone about this process to the satisfaction of the various applicants.nnn[b]08.21[/b] I’ve just been enjoying a cup of tea from my Widnes Vikings mug. As a rugby league fan I support the game first and foremost, but as a fan of a club that may be excluded from Super League I do worry about the future.nnThe RFL have said that the National League will remain a vibrant competition in its own right, and it’s good to see them take an interest. But just saying it doesn’t make it so – it’s the fans who will decide whether that is the case.nnAs I may be supporting the Vikings – and the game at large – in the lower leagues for at least the next three years I have a vested interest, but regardless what happens I hope the RFL make good on their promises to support the National Leagues.nnn[b]07:54 The Guardian[/b] tipped Celtic Crusaders, [b]The Independent[/b] hinted at Toulouse, and now [b]The Telegraph[/b] has tipped Salford City Reds to re-join their place in the elite.nnThe article makes the common assumption that the 12 Super League clubs are safe, and that the remaining two places will be alotted to Salford, Celtic or Widnes Vikings. Of the three, it says, the Reds are favourite due to their new stadium, while the Crusaders are hurt by their poor stadium and the Vikings by recent financial difficulties.nnIt also says that, should the RFL take the “radical step” of removing an existing Super League team, it will likely be Wakefield or Castleford. nnn[b]07:35[/b] Ian Laybourn from the press association has given a brief guide to the licensing system in [b]Sporting Life[/b]. Even at this late stage he writes somethings which appear contradictory to information we’ve heard earlier.nnLaybourn writes that unsuccessful clubs will have the opportunity to re-apply in three years, but not long ago it was reported that from 2012 onwards applicants have to have appeared in at least one NL1 Grand Final (except, presumably, if the team applying is from France or is a wholly new entity like Edinburgh).nnHe also writes that Super League could expand to 15 or 16 clubs in 2012, but a few months ago RFL chief executive Nigel Wood told the media that expansion beyond 14 even in three years’ time isn’t sustainable.nnThere is a lot of conflicting information out there which makes it difficult to have faith in the RFL’s system. nnn[b]07:18[/b] It’s the final lap in hour 24-hour countdown to the RFL’s franchise decision. There will be a lot of nervous fans this morning, not to mention one or two nervous clubs.nnClubs will be informed of the RFL’s decision at 9:45 and the rest of us will find out 20 minutes after that. Stay with us for all the latest news until then.nnE-mail in your comments and views to tony.williams@lasttackle.com, and I’ll aim to post as many of them up as I can.nnn[b]07.13[/b] Thanks to John for keeping us all updated in the early hours. I’ll be here until the decision itself in case there is any late news.nnn[b]02:14[/b] Dave Hadfield from The Independent has released his first article of the day and there really is nothing new to report. He tips Toulouse as the dark horses, but that has always been the case.nnHe does say that there has been ‘a unique degree of secrecy’ which can not be questioned. Only 7 people know and it seems like the RFL have successfully prevented an early leak of the successful applicants.nn[b]01:42[/b] As a Whitehaven fan, I have gathered feedback from fellow fans who made the trip down to Bridgend on Saturday (Whitehaven won 26-22!). The general consensus is that Celtic shouldn’t even be considered for a franchise based upon the lack of support and poor facilities.nnIt seems the RFL have successfully expanded the game in the South of France but does it really appear to be working in Wales? Fans at Millennium Magic were mainly from the participating clubs so you have to wonder if the interest is really there?nnMaybe the RFL would be better concentrating on an area where the infrastructure is already in place at grass roots level and where there is obvious support? I’m talking about Cumbria, more specifically West Cumbria, but I’ll leave this topic for another time!nn[b]01:31[/b] A few people have been contacting me in the last 20 minutes. A Castleford fan has e-mailed saying they are very worried. Personally I think Castleford are safe as I don’t think the RFL would leave out one of the current 12.nnAn interesting message from a Widnes fan stating that Alker has been to see the main men at Salford as some of the players are getting worried. Maybe wishful thinking from a Widnes fan or is there some truth in it? I’d love to hear Salford fans comments on thisnn[b]00:55[/b] The first story of the day seems to have been broken by The Guardian who headline their article ‘Crusaders firm favourites for a Super League place’. Andy Wilson seems certain that Celtic will be one of the 14 teams announced later today and expects the current 12 Super League sides to remain.nnJust to let you know, as a Whitehaven fan I have no favourites so my views will be unbiased. I will share my pick later on in the night though.nn[b]00:45[/b] Thanks Mark for keeping everyone up to date so far. I will be taking over now for the next 9 and a quarter hours until the announcement is made.nnE-mail in your comments and views to [b]john.flanagan@lasttackle.com[/b], and I’ll aim to post as many of them up as I can. nn[b]23:59[/b] And here’s where my coverage ends for tonight, I’m afraid. Good luck to the 19 sides in the process, and hopefully the RFL will make the fairest decision based on the criteria laid down. John will take you through most of the night, and I shall be back in the morning to help out with all the news, views and reaction. Goodnight, sleep tight.nn[b]23:51[/b] Gateshead Thunder coach Dave Woods has posted a message on former club Castleford Tigers‘ unofficial forum wishing the fans support. He states: “I’m sure that you don’t have anything to worry about at all. It would be an injustice not to include your great club in Super League and with the new stadium, super batch of juniors and years of tradition, it will be the icing on the cake tomorrow so that you can then build up for next year and many more back where you belong, up fighting for semi places in SL.”nnNice of him to post. Anybody taking bets on Gateshead in the running for a licence come 2011? On current form, you’d have to say promotion from NL2 looks on the cards for the Thunder. nn[b]23:41[/b] How’s this for a conspiracy theory? A lot of websites are using the words “two new teams” in relation to the upgrade to 14 sides. As Salford, Leigh and Widnes have already played in Super League and therefore not “new”, does this mean that Toulouse Olympique and Celtic Crusaders have been given licences? Will be interesting to see what unfolds over the next few hours.nn[b]23:34[/b] Lots of good luck messages appearing across the forums now, before most people goto bed. If you’re still awake and looking for any clue as to whether your side will get a licence please email your thoughts to me or my colleague John Flanagan, who will be taking over from me at midnight until morning.nn[b]21:34[/b] Fox Sports Australia continues to provide coverage of the [b]expected transfer scene succeeding the announcement of the successful licence applications.[/b]nnIt also states that the British Government is considering changing its immigration rules to allow foreign nationals easier entry into the country.nn”The British Government is reviewing its immigration rules in a move that could make it easier for English Super League clubs to poach players from the NRL.nn”The proposed change comes as the NRL was warned to brace itself for a major raid after the English Super League announced that two new clubs will join its competition. nn”The proposed change will see English clubs apply to the Immigration Department on behalf of the player, who will have to satisfy a number of key criteria to qualify for a work permit.”nn[b]21:17[/b] A few hours later since the last post and still no change in news. A little bit more discussion on the Yorkshire Evening Post’s SportsTalk, while the conspiracy theory are still doing the rounds.nnOne poster believes that Sky Sports News’ coverage of the licences, suggesting that two clubs will be added to the current 14, is pretty indicative of what will happen.nnFans continue to get twitchy bums with one Wakefield fan stating: “This is bloody torture!!!! Can’t we just cut to the chase and get em announced???… PUH-LEEEAAASSSE!!!!”nnStill 12 hours 40 minutes to go my friend.nn[b]16:16[/b] The conspiracy theorists are out. Some people seem to be in the know about who’s in or not, despite all the information being top-classified information as to ensure that there are no such leaks. One fan claims that eleven Super League clubs have already been told that they have licences, with the remaining one finding out whether they have succeeded tomorrow.nnIt’s a long way time since we started debating this. Thinking back to last year, and the spats and arguments between fans about why their club should get one.nnIt seems like the RFL have to take into account the fans’ feelings or they could push those fans such as Lasttackle owner and Widnes fan, Jay Gordon, away from the game.nn”Even if the admin is held against us, our positives far outweigh that negative,” he said.nn”It will be an absolute outrage if Widnes arent included, and I for one will stop supporting rugby league if the wrong decision is made.”nn[b]15:59[/b] There is one club who hasn’t been mentioned yet, and that is the Leigh Centurions who are an outside bet. What do you think Leigh fans? Do you see yourself behind, Salford, Widnes and Celtic Crusaders. Do you think you offer more than any SL clubs? Let me know.nn[b]15:49[/b] It seems to be the clubs at risk or chasing a spot in the Super League with the ‘propaganda’ press releases out.nn[b]Sporting Life[/b] carries another Celtic Crusaders article. However, a little bit at the bottom about Challenge Cup Semi-Finalists Wakefield, who according to the website, now appear to be the favourites to lose their Super League status.nnFrancis Stephenson, Wakefield’s General Manager said: “I’ve said all along, we’re satisfied that there are very few teams from outside the League who do the amount of work that we do and that puts us in great stead to get a licence.”nnThoughts Wakefield fans. Nervous? Confident? How do you rate your chances. Do you see yourself in a fight to retain your status, or do you believe you offer more across the board than Castleford, Widnes, Salford and Celtic Crusaders? nn[b]15:37:[/b] Shaun McRae told [b]BBC Sport[/b] that he expects Salford to be in the 14 tomorrow morning.nn”I have always said we are one of the favourites to get in and nothing that we have done on or off the field since our application has gone in, or before our application went in, has changed my mind.nn”I am absolutely confident our name is going to be read out on Tuesday. nnHe added: “I will be absolutely gobsmacked and distraught if it is not and I think it will be a major catastrophe if that is not the case.”nnMost people’s predictions include Salford. What do you think Salford fans? Chances – good or bad? How do you feel about the media’s perception that you’re being pitched up against Celtic Crusaders and Widnes for the two additional places? Or are you on the opposite side of the fence, by excluding one current SL team, and adding all three teams for the 2009-2011 period?nnRemember to let me know your thoughts on the email!nn[b]15:30[/b] Something for people to debate about. Should Celtic Crusaders be included in the 14 teams? We’ve had support from Welsh icons over the last few days. Chief Exec David Thompson said of the Crusaders: “It’s everything, we were set up for the purpose of getting Super League status.nn”Also, I think getting the licence would be important for sport in Wales and league.” nnWhat are your thoughts folks? E-mail me by clicking [b]HERE[/b]nn[b]15:19[/b] As I’ve been at work most of the morning, I’ve been unable to bring you most of the earlier franchise news. [b] The Guardian[/b] was the first to report today. Rugby league correspondent Andy Wilson reported that [b]Castleford’s 66-12 mauling of Harlequins[/b] had “eased their worries” over the licence decision.nnAs a Castleford fan, I can still speak for the majority of Tiger fans that we’ll still have those niggling doubts until 10:05am tomorrow, despite what CEO Richard Wright said last night on the radio.nn[b]15:00:[/b] It is now less than 24 hours until the decisions of who will gain the 14 precious licences for the next three Super League years. Follow all the updates with Lasttackle.comnnWe will bring you as much coverage from across the country with regards to who the media are predicting, who the coaches are predicting, and most of all who you – the fans – are predicting.nnE-mail in your comments and views to mark.fullilove@lasttackle.com, and I’ll aim to post as many of them up as I can.

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