No relegation from Super League “the only option”

James Gordon

Phil Clarke says there was no other option but to scrap promotion and relegation from Super League this season.

The cancellation of the Championship season was confirmed last night, and the dramatic withdrawal of Toronto Wolfpack means Super League will complete with 11 teams in 2020.

It remains to be seen whether Toronto will be allowed to continue in the top flight in 2021, having angered clubs and Super League by the manner and timing of their withdrawal, and the Wolfpack themselves admit they are not sure whether they will be invited back.

Clarke told Sky Sports: “It was the only option when Toronto pulled out.

“All sporting contests need some integrity. The integrity of the competition is severely damaged because of that.

“Toronto haven’t been given a chance to compete at the highest level. In theory (they’ll be back next year), but who knows.

“This is interesting times. All Super League clubs believed 12 months ago, that it would be a good idea for them to be in the competition, some of them may change their minds now.

“Of all the sports clubs in British competitions that have been affected by the pandemic, no club has been hurt more than the Wolfpack. They’ve got no home games, they don’t share any of the TV money or central distribution funding and they’ve not had the opportunity to use furlough for their players. They have done it tough, and it’s been an uphill battle.

“Opinion is split between fans in this country about the Wolfpack, but they are in, and they did bring a freshness and intrigue to the competition.

“Not having promotion and relegation isn’t a new thing in rugby league. We’ve more or less spent the last 25 years of Super League debating the pros and cons of promotion and relegation annually. In a sport like rugby league, that doesn’t have the resources of football, I’m not sure using money just to avoid relegation is the best use of resources for the sport.”