RFL chairman Richard Lewis helped to launch the new Super League season yesterday, and laid down the gauntlet to all clubs to prove their worth in the competition.
With a competitive season expected, kicking off at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday, there was a timely reminder from Lewis of the Super League licensing process, with decisions to be made this year on which clubs will obtain a licence for 2012-14.
A Championship club – one of Barrow, Halifax and Widnes – has been granted a place in the top flight next season, meaning one of the existing 14 will face the axe.
The RFL will announce the identity of the successful Championship club on March 31 and the remaining 13 licences in late July.
“This year is an important year for all the clubs who have applied for three-year Super League licences from the start of 2012,” said Lewis.
“The licence review has been ongoing for some time and the process has been challenging for all the clubs, but the beauty of the system is that it creates equal opportunities for all and encourages development.
“It gives me great satisfaction to know that the sport will have two new stadiums in the next two years with St Helens and Salford City both moving to state-of-the-art facilities.
“Licensing is no doubt high on the agenda for all involved within the sport but we also have other important developments from a commercial and media perspective in 2011.
“I will be leading our negotiations with broadcasters as we aim to improve our tender agreement for the three years from 2012. Rugby League’s appeal as a television spectacle shows no sign of diminishing and viewing figures for Super League games in 2010 were again higher than those witnessed by the Aviva Premiership.
“In addition to a strong radio and TV presence, we will continue to fight for our market share of national media coverage. We have seen that when covered in the right way, Rugby League has the power to boost circulation figures in an industry that is witnessing falling circulation figures across the board.
“With so much at stake on and off the field of play this season, the 2011 Engage Super League campaign looks set to be another classic and I look forward to watching it unfold across all the media platforms.”