Proposals to scrap the Super 8s have been voted through following the RFL’s EGM this morning.
It means that Super League will return to an automatic one up, one down promotion and relegation system from 2019, with the top five teams qualifying for the play-offs.
The Magic Weekend is retained, with all teams playing each other home and away once, as well as six so-called loop fixtures to bring the total number of regular season games to 29.
The proposals were supported by 68% of the votes cast, despite vociferous opposition to the proposals from outside the top flight.
Championship and League One clubs are now holding separate discussions to agree on the format of their respective competitions from next season.
RFL chief executive, Ralph Rimmer, said: “Today’s announcement is about a number of things: structure simplification, funding certainty, shared responsibilities and growing the sport together with clearly defined responsibilities. It follows a scheduled mid-cycle review and substantial negotiation. The Rugby Football League governs the whole game. Its focus throughout has been securing clear commitments for the whole sport post-2021 so that the sport has certainty and can move forward, focused on growth.
Structure is one of many vital components of any sport. Everyone is focused on a vibrant and successful Super League, and Championship and League 1. We have secured guaranteed promotion and relegation to and from Super League. It is essential that aspiring clubs, owners and fans can see their path to the top. We can now move forward and focus on all the areas which contribute to a strong, thriving sport.
Rugby League has outstanding assets including all competitions, the Challenge Cup, the community game and England.
It is vital that we now draw a line under the last period; and focus our collective energies on promoting the sport and the fantastic players on the pitch who should be the ones making the headlines. The whole sport has a massive opportunity in the home World Cup in 2021. All of us now need to look forward together and focus on the job in hand.”
Robert Elstone, Super League Chief Executive, said: “Super League is the game’s elite competition and the whole sport benefits from a strong, attractive, well-resourced and exciting Super League. The game faces a pivotal moment in two years’ time when Super League negotiates a new broadcast deal.
Throughout this process Super League (Europe) has worked with the Rugby Football League and will continue to do so to strengthen and grow the game. This has been a professional and tough negotiation. We have clear accountability and duties as Super League (Europe), and the Rugby Football League as the governing body for the whole sport, which enables a sharper focus for both organisations.
We share the same drive and commitment to progress the sport and look to 2019 with confidence and excitement.”