Leigh MP Andy Burnham has launched a petition to bring back promotion and relegation to Super League.
In an open letter to the new chair of the RFL, Burnham says that winning the right to go up a level is the lifeblood of any sport, and the “British way of doing things.”
Promotion and relegation was scrapped in 2008 in place of a licensing system, which saw Salford and Celtic Crusaders elevated to Super League for the 2009 season, and Widnes in 2012.
Although Salford and Celtic were the top two teams in National League 1 in 2008, Widnes only finished 5th in the Championship, but qualified to apply for a licence thanks to their 2009 Northern Rail Cup triumph.
Burnham’s letter addresses fears over the damage a lack of competitiveness to the game, but also the lack of attraction to investing in Championship clubs.
The statement includes the following justification for the return of promotion and relegation: “It’s ‘the British way’ of doing things. Do we really think that the same old sides year in, year out playing in the top flight is good for the game? If you take away the dream of top flight Rugby League from the Championship clubs, you take away their lifeblood. Where is the incentive to invest in the squad if there is no prospect of promotion?
“Likewise, without the threat of relegation where is the incentive for Super League clubs to improve, knowing they can and will remain in the top flight year on year.
“Promotion and relegation adds excitement and drama to the season at both ends of the tables. Currently bottom of the table fixtures are played out as meaningless games.
“The loss of competitiveness, threatens in the long term to damage spectator and TV audiences for the sport. Too many predictable, one-sided games will make people switch off or not bother to turn up.”
Burnham has received some support on Twitter, including messages from former Great Britain internationals Garry Schofield and Bobbie Goulding.
To view the letter and sign the petition, click here