Players union back calls for central funding to save Toronto Wolfpack

James Gordon

The GMB players union has called on the RFL to provide central funding to Toronto Wolfpack to help secure a new owner for the troubled club.

Wolfpack chairman Bob Hunter has been in talks with Super League chiefs regarding the future of the club, which hopes to return to the league in 2021 – having withdrawn on the eve of the season’s restart citing difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the key issues surrounding not only the withdrawal, but the Wolfpack’s hopes of finding a successor to David Argyle, is the receipt of central funding.

Toronto haven’t taken a penny of central funding since joining the RFL pyramid in 2017, and their share of Super League’s lucrative broadcasting deal was divided up between the other 11 clubs for 2020 after they earned promotion from the Championship.

Former GB international, Gareth Carvell, GMB’s lead rep for players said: “Every club deserves a slice of the TV  revenues. It’s only fair that Toronto get a fair share like every other club in Super League and I am urging the RFL and Super League to support the bid by providing a level playing field for Toronto.

“We have the World Cup next year and it’s our chance to showcase the game by cementing Toronto into the league.  North America and Canada are vital markets if this game wants to grow and whilst ever that opportunity presents itself, we need to grab it.”

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The potential new owner of Toronto was revealed at the weekend as local entrepreneur Carlo LiVolsi, who was introduced to Super League officials. He was part of the original ownership group of the club.

Toronto’s players haven’t been paid since June, and have all been told they can find deals elsewhere – Sonny Bill Williams has taken up a deal with Sydney Roosters until the end of this season, but remains on contract for 2021.

The Wolfpack’s most recent signing, Kallum Watkins, signed for Salford on a three-year deal without playing a game for the club having been left in limbo by the club’s withdrawal from competition.

GMB Senior Organiser Peter Davies said: “I can accept the concerns that Super League and the RFL have around Toronto’s failures to complete this season but the Covid crisis is a once in a generation event and was hardly of Toronto’s making.

“The hard truth is that with no access to Furlough, the U.K. government rescue loan and anything from the league wide TV deal they stood no chance of taking to the field again as the season restarted.

“Our main concern is for the players and their families and with new potential owners in the wings who are willing to step in now to save the club; we need to do everything we can to support that.”