Players union back calls for central funding to save Toronto Wolfpack

5th March 2020, Emerald Headingley, Leeds, England; Betfred Super League, Leeds Rhinos v Toronto Wolfpack : Josh McCrone (C) of Toronto Wolfpack celebrates scoring a try against Leeds Rhinos.

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talks with Super League chiefs regarding the future of the club, which hopes to return to the league in 2021 – having withdrawn on the eve of the season’s restart citing difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.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

18 Comments

  1. Please don’t make me laugh , where was the GMB when widnes vikings were in trouble because of O’Connor and Rules . Toronto got themselves into this financial mess , by buying to many players and paying over the odds for certain players namely SBW and when the going got to tough they walked out and now want to walk back . No should be happening they need some form of punishment. GMB fighting for unpaid players and stafff wages . But to use a union to stay in super league not on and neither is turning a sport into a political events . No super league grow a pair of dangles and get rid of Toronto

  2. I agree Nigel , as i have said before , if featherstone came up to super league they might of come straight back down . But the flat cappers would of showed pride , grit. And cuts and stayed to the end of the competition unlike Toronto walking out of the game . You just can’t buy pride you build it up over a period of time . A lesson Toronto just can’t seem to get grip of . Unlike Widnes Vikings where we the fans paid money to save club no moaning , no players union involved, no coach bagging to stay in the league . Pride cuts and the ability to stick two fingers up to the RFL who tried their best to kill of Widnes

  3. Wow. Talk about small mindedness. Wolfpack were not given the same advantages that Featherstone or any other team would have received. No team has ever faced the hurdles placed in front of Toronto and then corona was the knockout punch.

  4. Stop crying you knew the deal to join super league it’s down to your legal team and your clubs committee are Toronto the only club the ovirus has effected no I don’t think so . It’s down to yourselves . You got yourselves in the financial mess your in grow and sort your mess . Your better of in a Australian league you winge like a aussie

  5. As a Wolfpack fan and a former Halifax fan I find it hard to understand the comments of your contributors. The Wolfpack and David Argyle have given Rugby League an opportunity to break away from its north country image. No doubt they have made mistakes.
    I always felt that the league screwed Toronto when they refused to provide them with at least a piece of the TV contract. Remember 50% of their games were played in the UK or France therefore being shown on Sky.
    Is this the attitude Ottawa will face next year? How many championship teams can pull in 10,000 fans for a game?
    Just as a note the majority of the fans at Wolfpack games are young people with no exposure to Rugby League, not old guys like me. Please try to be more open minded and give these guys a chance to succeed!

  6. Open minded are you having a laugh , they knew the deal when they joined this is not a excuse to walk away from the game because your having a bad season , when Halifax were in trouble did they walk away from game . No they didn’t they fought tooth and nail to survive. Not crying and making up every excuse for failure . The blame lies with the teams performances the committee and their legal team for agreeing to the deal in the first place . If their getting that many fans . Start a Canadian/ American League over there and stop dragging our game more and more . Is this fault of Widnes Bradford featherstone London Halifax no it Toronto’s fair and square

  7. Every Toronto fan realizes that this season has been a disaster, and partly of the club’s own making. McDermott (finally) said as much and Bob Hunter has said so all along. It’s been extremely embarrassing for Wolfpack fans. But it defies belief that other rugby league fans actually want us to cease to exist. That is astoundingly harsh to a fanbase numbering thousands (many of them pretty fanatical) after only three years, lots of whom (like me) never watched rugby league before. I understand that you’re cheesed off and being all tough and everything but how does Toronto’s extinction benefit anyone in the game? You’re happy to put all our players (many of whom are from the north of England and grew up in the towns where some of these “kick them out” people live) out of work, deny the application for readmission and see all those guys go unpaid (new owner will settle their wages if it’s approved), see the game go from a big hit to gone forever in a new city of three million people? Are you insane? Or are you just addicted to acting all tough with this “don’t make me laugh” nonsense? Have you thought this through or are you only motivated by revenge and punishment? And all because our unpredictable former owner got his sums all wrong amid a once-a-century crisis? Get a grip, guys.

  8. Well said Gordon. No wonder the game is going downhill rapidly in this country. Gareth Carvell speaking a lot of sense as is Steve McNamara. The game will go nowhere with attitudes like Alex.

  9. You can all cry at Toronto first of I have never said kill Toronto off I have said they should be punished with relegation or a point deduction and not given special treatment, youve be around for about 4 years . As for all players coming from the north of England grow up there’s Aussies kiwis welsh Irish Scotsman and many other nations in super league which shows your complete lack of knowledge in the sport . Next I’ve played in the southern conference and spread the game down south in the London and surrounding areas . I have also played in the midlands league for Peterborough .I was also a founding member of the Royal Air Force rugby league teamand played for the joint services and combined Services side in France and New Zealand . I would also like to point out to you both I was born in Glasgow SCOTLAND. Which is a completely different country to the NW of England . I have the honour to represent my country in the World Cup . I am level one and two coaching qualified .so I’ve done my share to develop the game from Scotland to the south of England . What have you done for the game . Apart from moan because Toronto want different treatment to every other rugby club because your poorly run , Toronto have manage to bring the game into disrepute. I’ve even played rugby league in port Stanley ( falklands ) and Kuwait . So next time you come on here bumming your lips get you facts right . Or at least learn about the games 125 years worth of history and Toronto 4 years of history and that counting this season where you walked out of super league and challenge cup .

  10. Here’s another answer to one of your quotes Daniel. I am not tough by any means but I have put my life on the line in 3 conflicts for my country and suffer from Severe PTSD to provide you with the freedom and the right to free speech which you are using to defend your team , but if I ever came across you face to face you would have a sore jaw . Now please go and cry on somebody shoulder as a Widnes fan I’ve got a team with a history pride and loyalty to support

  11. Gee, Alex, thanks for going into armed conflict to defend my right to an opinion about rugby league so that you can threaten to punch me in the face when you disagree with it. Come on, you can do better than that, mate. The fans we’ve had over in Toronto have been great. They’ve come over and had a lot of fun and supported their teams with passion and pride. I’m guessing you’re unlikely to come if we somehow continue to exist and if we’re in the same division, since you appear to be quite incensed by our very existence, but if you do I’ll buy you a beer and would love to hear about your service to your country (my country as well, actually). Let’s not have a fight, though: you’d win and we’d both be in trouble!

  12. Just find some of your comments and little to close to the bone , I’m man enough to apologise to you , id share a beer with you , hell I’d even buy one or two .! But some of your comments need looked into there’s not many people in this world who have played the game from the north of Scotland to the south of England so I’ve tried to spread the game around the country and the world . If you want me e- mail to chat of this site I’m more than willing to chat like a grown up . Don’t need to thank me for my service but I ask you to remember the fallen . Let me know about the email if your interest . Due to my severe PTSD I can just about get out my house for short periods and work . Keep well and keep safe from this virus nasty stuff

  13. I’m don’t mind Toronto I hope you do keep going , just think it’s a insult if there is no punishment for walking away , I nearly lost my team twice and we got punished twice including have the club monitored till we were allowed to buy players

  14. Alex, I AM sorry for annoying you with the whole talking tough thing. You have clearly lived and breathed rugby league for your whole life, whereas I’ve only followed it for three years (which makes me someone you want to attract to the game, even if it means putting up with me talking rubbish). And I deeply respect your military service and the sacrifice of those who fell in active service. And I am very, very sorry that you are suffering so much with PTSD. That’s awful for you and I only hope you get all the support you need. I just eventually flipped after watching so many people on so many of these sites seem to wish us so ill (and watching us booed when we won the Championship last season). You know what it’s like when people wish your club ill. It’s horrible. We want our team back. We don’t even know who to be pissed off with – David Argyle screwed all this up, but then again he lost millions of dollars setting us up in the first place. I think I do feel that this season is completely different from other times when teams have been demoted, fined, points deductions etc. We were trying to do the near impossible by existing 3000 miles away with no home games, under an already rather harsh agreement with SL, and were hit by the biggest public health crisis in a hundred years. We couldn’t get government help from the UK or Canada. It seems incredibly harsh, and self-defeating, for the game to regard those six games (in which we were terrible) as our one chance that we blew. Whether this is genuinely inconsistent with previous punishments, I can’t say – the circumstances cannot possibly be identical – but I’m right that Catalans were exempt from relegation in their first SL season? Don’t you have to give new teams a BIT of leeway at first, especially if they’ve done their time working their way up from League 1? Anyhow, no hard feelings, mate; sorry again for going a bit far with my comments – take care and good luck to Widnes next season.

    • Good convo Alex and Daniel, we’re better pulling together than apart as RL fans. And I just want to mention that Wolfpack fans also want every team to play under the same rules as everybody else, that includes broadcasting revenues for all 12 teams. Those broadcasting rights I believe cover most if not all of each team’s salary cap so if Toronto had the same rules the players would’ve been paid like the other 11 teams in the stoppage and very likely would have continued at the re-start.
      If you get the chance to attend a game in Toronto Alex I guarantee you’ll be impressed with the atmosphere and fan support, there’s something special here that can only be a very positive reflection on the game. Argyle lost 30 million, mistakes were made and lessons learned and I’m sure if it was known a global pandemic was on its way then the Wolfpack would not have reluctantly taken the original ‘take it or leave it’ deal that the gov body offered. Only to have that crystal ball, eh!
      If and hopefully when Toronto are granted entry back into Super League I’ll be visiting England next year, virus-permitting, to watch my team against clubs like your Widnes and my cousin’s Wigan and can’t wait to be there with my Wolfpack colours on.
      Good luck to you Alex and let’s keep this game moving forward together, next up Ottawa!

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