Robert Elstone believes Super League made the right decision in turning down Toronto Wolfpack’s bid to be re-admitted into the competition.
The Canadian club withdrew from their maiden season in the top flight in July, citing financial problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but had hoped they would return to Super League in 2021 under new ownership.
But a meeting of the Super League board rejected their bid by a vote of 8-4 with one abstention.
Super League’s executive chairman Elstone has admitted it was a tough decision to turn down Toronto’s bid, but believes it was the right call.
Elstone told Sky Sports: “It was a really difficult decision and one that we took very seriously – one that we conducted throughly, professionally, diligently – one in which that we gave Toronto every chance to demonstrate that it could contribute to Super League.
“I think Toronto was always starting off on the back foot. If you go back to when Toronto joined the competition, I’m not sure any sort of commercial appraisal was done over the prospects but equally, Toronto was admitted on a business model which was essentially self-funded by the club in perpetuity some people would argue.
“I think the problem started at that point where it came into the competition on a non-sustainable business model. I think clearly Covid then had a major influence. I think there were some decisions along the way that people might argue with but Covid exacerbated problems, highlighted weaknesses.
“We then sat down with the club immediately after it had given notice of its intention to stand down. We tried to help, we gave a three-month window for the club to prepare a bid, we evaluated the risks and returns of playing rugby league in Canada, playing transatlantic rugby league and the challenges, for me, clearly outweighed some of the opportunities.
“The opportunities were largely undefined, they certainly hadn’t crystalised a date, we had some independent corroboration of that, none of that stacked up and when the club finally made submission, the club made a second submission, the first submission by its own admission wasn’t up to scratch, there was no real new evidence.
“So, I think the balance of all that – yes, it was a difficult decision but we are very certain as an executive team and as a Super League board that we made the right decision.”
Super League hopefuls have been shown the minimum criteria needed to fill the vacant 12th spot for next year.
As many as eight clubs are thought to be interested in taking Toronto’s place in the top flight for 2021. A decision is expected to be made on Super League’s newest club by December 16.
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