The RFL and Northampton Rebels have mutually agreed to the withdrawal of the club from their planned entry into Championship One as one of the four new semi-professional clubs in 2013.
RFL Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer expressed his disappointment but said the decision testified to the effectiveness of the assessment and vetting procedures all new clubs are undergoing.
“It had become increasingly clear in recent weeks that Northampton were not where they needed or wanted to be” said Rimmer.
“We have been working closely with Northampton Rebels over the last few months but the club expressed concerns about their ability to prepare for their entry into Championship One.
“Whilst it is clearly a very disappointing development, our decision provides verification that the rigorous checks we have in place are working and that there is a quality threshold being applied.
“It was never going to be an easy process for a new club to gear up to meet the challenges of a semi-professional competition and we have always had contingencies in place for an eventuality such as this.
“Although the journey proved to be too difficult for Northampton Rebels, we always had highly credible alternatives in reserve: we will make the right decisions for the competition and exciting announcements lie ahead in the near future.”
Northampton Chairman David Cardoza said he was sorry that his ambitions for the Rebels could not be realised.
“We didn’t want to launch something that had no chance of success and was not going to be competitive,” he said. “It was always of paramount importance to us that the Rugby League side didn’t impact on the football club, and we were concerned there was an increasing risk of that happening.
“We spoke to the RFL who have been a big help to us, and so with regret we have agreed to withdraw. I want to personally thank Ralph Rimmer and Steve Ferres for their fantastic assistance and support during this project: this decision is no reflection on them whatsoever.
“I would like to thank everyone who has helped us so far, and particularly those supporters who have put their views forward.
“I am proud of the work we did to get the Rebels this far, and am truly sorry that we have had to end the adventure here.”
The identity of the other two successful applicants will be announced in due course.