Promotion and relegation to and from Super League is still set to go ahead at the end of the season.
There has been some conjecture over whether the goal posts will once again be moved, including an erroneous report by the BBC on their live Challenge Cup final coverage that relegation will not take place this year.
But officials from the RFL and Super League have confirmed to us that there have been no formal discussions around removing relegation.
An RFL spokesperson said: “There is no change – it’s still one up, one down.
“There has been acknowledgement from Super League, and an emphasis from us, that Championship clubs can’t be blamed (for the impact of COVID) and that promotion can’t be affected.”
While there was no relegation from Super League in 2020, that was largely as a result of the combination of Toronto’s withdrawal and the fact that no proper Championship season took place due to COVID.
This season is a different story, with a full quota of 12 teams to complete the top flight, and a full Championship competition taking place – currently led by Toulouse and Featherstone, who are hot favourites to meet in the Grand Final for promotion at the end of the year.
Leigh were elevated to Super League in the winter to fill the gap left by Toronto, though were dealt a tough hand with reduced central funding.
Despite their status as relegation favourites, having lost all their games so far, owner Derek Beaumont has maintained his support for promotion and relegation to stay in place, even if it comes to their detriment.
In a club statement on Wednesday, he said: “We will not place all our hopes on relegation being removed. I do not support that at the expense of promotion and, even if that was the case, which it isn’t, I would still invest and do everything possible to finish above 12th spot.”
A spate of postponements in Super League due to COVID has raised the issue of relegation potentially being unfair, and at least a handful of clubs are known to have been sounded out on the issue.
And though no discussions have been held formally, a Super League spokesperson confirmed while nothing is on the table regarding the issue, nothing is off the table either.
An expansion to 13 teams, to accommodate the promoted Championship side if relegation is pulled, is thought to be unlikely – due to the various logistical issues around season structure, as well as the impact an odd number of teams would have on Magic Weekend.
The same issues were discussed last year, when consideration was given to not replacing Toronto in Super League and instead running the 2021 season with 11 teams.