Toronto Wolfpack’s future will be on the line on Friday morning when Super League club representatives consider their application to rejoin the competition in 2021.
The application will go before a virtual meeting of the Super League board, which largely comprises owners or chief executives of the other 11 clubs following the breakaway from the Rugby Football League in 2018.
The RFL is thought to be supportive of Toronto’s bid but only has one vote, the same as Super League’s executive chairman Robert Elstone, who is thought to have strong reservations over the North American franchise.
So the Canadian club’s fate will essentially be determined by their rivals, who could either reject the proposal outright or seek more information on the business plan of potential new owner Carlo LiVolsi.
“Friday’s meeting of Super League clubs is a very significant one,” said Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington, who is one of the more vocal supporters of the Wolfpack.
“I believe it’s the first time in the game’s history that the fate of a club will be determined by clubs from the same league.
“The game’s governing body, the RFL only has a single vote, the same as any other Super League club, and so the decision will rest with the Super League clubs themselves.”
Toronto withdrew from their inaugural season in the top flight in July when Australian owner David Argyle announced he no longer had the resources to fund them.
There is still some resentment over the way the club pulled out of the league just days before the scheduled August 2 re-start and bitterness grew when revelations surfaced that the players have not been paid since May.
LiVolsi insists he will pay the wages in full if the club are re-instated and the GMB trade union which represents rugby league players say they have brokered a deal worth in the region of £1million.
A move to restore Super League to a 12-team competition could count in their favour and St Helens and Warrington are thought to be supportive of Toronto’s case, along with Leeds.
Toronto have operated without central distribution since their entry into League 1 in 2017 but LiVolsi insists that must change if they are to be re-admitted and that could sway some of their rivals who are loathe to take a cut in funding.
Clubs like Huddersfield, Wakefield and Hull KR are expected to vote against the Wolfpack amid accusations of acting in self-interest which Toronto’s former director of rugby Brian Noble believes would be immoral.
The one-time Great Britain coach, who was in charge of football at the Wolfpack from their formation up to February of this year, is worried about the outcome of Friday’s vote.
“I’m hoping they make a real good decision and say yes; my fear is they’ll say no,” Noble told Sky Sports.
“If we make the decision to take Toronto out of the Super League on the back of ‘we’ll get a little bit of extra money every year’, that’s wholly wrong and immoral.
“I worry what we are saying about the game if we do kick them out, bearing in mind the difficulties came not only because David’s liquidity failed, but because coronavirus struck and, whilst every other club has had help from the government, this club hasn’t.”