Super League licensing FAQs

Unsure on what the process is for the Super League announcement next Tuesday? Here are some FAQ’s to help.

What are the aims and objectives of Super League licensing?

Licensing is a central factor in ensuring Super League reaches its aim of being the best elite Rugby League competition in the world.  Licensing is designed to ensure:

The promotion and continuous improvement of the standard of Rugby League in the UK and the training of young players in each club. 

The impact of the Super League is broadened beyond its traditional heartlands, and the development of the league in strategically significant areas is continued.

Super League clubs have appropriate management and organisational systems in place and to promote the highest standards of financial and business management of clubs. 

The promotion of high quality infrastructure in order to provide players, staff, spectators and media with well appointed, well equipped and safe environments. 

The promotion of the highest standards in clubs commercial, marketing, media and community departments. 

To satisfy the requirement to ensure a financially strong company Super League through sponsorship and broadcast revenue

What period is the next licence for?

The next round of licences will be awarded for the period 2012 to 2014.

Who will decide which clubs obtain a licence for 2012 to 2014?

The independent RFL Board will determine who gains membership to the Super League in 2012. The board’s decisions will be based on a detailed and comprehensive assessment of each club’s application.

Who will carry out the assessment?

The assessment process is co-ordinated by the RFL’s own executive with further specialist contributions from external agencies, including property consultants Savills and financial experts KPMG.

Who sits on the independent RFL Board?

The board comprises five members, none of whom have club affiliations – RFL Chairman Richard Lewis, RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood and three non-executive directors: Clare Morrow, Bob Stott and Maurice Watkins.

Clare Morrow is Chair of the tourism marketing agency Welcome to Yorkshire and has previously worked in television with ITV Yorkshire, where she was Controller of News and Regional Programming and Head of Sport. 

Bob Stott was a director of supermarket group Morrisons plc for over 20 years, including a period as chief executive. He is a non-executive director of the Leeds Building Society, the Greyhound Board for Great Britain and bakery group Frank Roberts and Sons.

Maurice Watkins is a senior partner at Brabner Chaffe Street and one of the country’s most prominent sports lawyers. He is also a director of Manchester United, a director for the British Association for Sport and Law and a member of the FA Premier League Legal Advisory Group.

Has a club from the Championship already been awarded a licence?

Yes, Widnes Vikings were awarded a licence on March 31 after their application was assessed as the strongest from a Championship club alongside that of Barrow Raiders and Halifax.

The decision was announced in March to give Widnes extra time to make the transition from being a predominantly part-time operation to being a full-time, fully professional Super League club.

Halifax were deemed to have met minimum standards and their application went on to be reassessed alongside those of the existing 14 Engage Super League clubs. Barrow did not meet minimum standards and were eliminated from the assessment process.

What criteria did the Championship clubs have to meet?

The minimum criteria for a Championship club to be awarded a Super League licence are:

Club has reached a Championship Final or won the Northern Rail Cup in 2009 or 2010.

Club has a stadium with an operational capacity of 10,000.

Club has turnover of at least £1,000,000 in financial year ending 2009 or 2010 (turnover of charitable Foundation can be included in this figure).

Club has an average attendance of at least 2500 in 2009 or 2010

When did the Super League clubs submit their applications?

Super League clubs were required to submit their applications by close of business on Friday April 1, 2011.

What happens if Halifax’s application is stronger that of two existing Super League clubs?

Halifax’s application has been assessed alongside that of the 14 existing Super League clubs. Should their application be deemed to be stronger than that of two other clubs, Halifax will be awarded a licence and two Super League clubs will not have their licences renewed.

Has the assessment process changed from the last round of Super League licensing?

In the last round of licensing, clubs were initially assessed and awarded points on reaching minimum standards.  In this round of licensing, clubs will be assessed against A Grade criteria.  The figures and information used within the criteria are those of a perceived A Grade club (for example 5,000 season ticket holders, audited turnover of at least £4 million, no insolvency event between 2008 and 2010).  These criteria are designed to reflect the advancing standards within Super League, and take account of the feedback received from clubs following the last round of licensing.

How have the applications been assessed?

Clubs have been assessed on criteria in 5 key areas:

Commercial, Marketing, Media and Community.



Governance and Business Management.

Playing Strength and Player Performance Strategy.

Clubs that meet all of the A Grade criteria across the 5 areas will be awarded an A Grade licence. Clubs that materially meet all the A Grade criteria and/or satisfy the RFL that they will meet the criteria in the next round of licensing will be awarded a B Grade licence.  

The RFL will then allocate the remaining Super League licences to those existing Super League clubs and/or Championship clubs which applied for a licence and met the Championship Club Minimum Criteria.  The licences will be allocated to those clubs that the RFL board believes are the most suitable, taking into account the:

Extent to which each club helps meet the SLE Strategy and the strategic aims and objectives of the Licensing process;

Historical activity of the clubs under consideration; and

RFL’s reasonable opinion as to future performance of the clubs under consideration.

How have clubs planning new or redeveloped stadia been assessed?

New stadiums or redevelopments of existing stadiums have only been taken into account if the RFL Board was satisfied that the stadium will be open or the redevelopment finished by the start of the 2012 season.

When will the identity of the 13 other licence holders be announced?

RFL Chairman Richard Lewis will announce the decision of the independent board at a media conference in Manchester on Tuesday July 26 at 11.00am.

When will the clubs find out?

The clubs will learn their fate on Tuesday July 26 at 11.00am when Richard Lewis reveals the board’s decision at the media conference. Immediately after the announcement, the RFL will contact each individual club with details of their grading and to set up a meeting at which they will receive detailed feedback on their licence application. The RFL will not make public summaries of all the applications until the feedback process with the clubs is completed.


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