Super League – The Final Cut

The whole licence application, in an event in itself, has thrown up more debate than any other Rugby League news story in living memory. As we approach the final furlong I thought I’d assess the chances of the teams in the National League of getting in the final selection come D-Day – July 22nd.nnThere is still some conjecture to how the RFL will make their final decision. The applications are in – in fact they have been in for quite a while now – but people still believe that the propaganda off and on the pitch may make a difference. My many reports the final decision should have already been made.nnFrom what I understand it is certain that Super League will be a fourteen team affair for the 2009 season, despite rumours that the newly selected teams will be given an extra twelve months to build a side capable of competing. The feeling is that the National league has a very strong competition. The two extra sides will be able to build a side that can compete. Richard Lewis reiterated this fact last week stating: ”It needs to be remembered that when Catalan Dragons were admitted into Engage Super League three seasons ago it was at the expense of another Super League club, so there are a number Super League players playing in the National leagues, through playing in super league week in, week out we are confident that players can develop to the required standard”n nMy semi-educated view of what happens during the license process is that teams are judged on the ten, by now well known, criteria points listed belownn• Stadium with a capacity of 12,000 or more.n• The standards of a premier competition venue in the 21st century.n• Average attendance of around 10,000 spectators.n• Stadiums are operating at 40 per cent capacity.n• Solvencyn• Turnover is more than £4million.n• Contribution to the competition (average top eight finish)n• Home-grown player development (eight members of a first-team squad of 25 should be discovered, trained and developed in this country)n• No salary cap breachesn• No other rugby league club within a 20-mile radius.nnFrom this stage the RFL will make a draft list of teams who have gained ‘A’ License status, and ‘B’ License status. These teams will be automatically offered a place in the competition. The remaining teams, who score ‘C’ will be assessed on the independent merits they offer to the contest. From this stage it doesn’t matter if a club scored 4 points or 1 point; they will all be assessed again to see who offers the most. I guess that this is where the RFL will choose who they feel will benefit the competition more.nnIn my humble opinion, and yes I am preparing to be shot down, the only current Super League clubs that will gain an A license will be: Leeds, Hull and Warrington. Those that will get a B licence will be: Bradford, Huddersfield, Wigan, Saints, Harlequins and Catalan Dragons. So supporters of these nine can sit back and relax, or reposez-vous et reposer in the case of our French friends.nnThat leaves Hull KR, Castleford, and Wakefield in the same basket as the other licence applicants from the National League fighting it out for the remaining five places. It seems that the front runners, according to various media, are Salford, Widnes and Celtic Crusaders. Below I have listed how many points I feel each of these teams will score. Naturally this is my personal opinion, but I have presumed that the RFL will not give points for “promises” with regards to new stadiums and such like, and only for what the club have in place already.nnSALFORD CITY REDS n• Operating at 40% fulln• Solventn• Junior Developmentn• No Salary cap breachesnTotal: 4 points – C Licence statusnnCELTIC CRUSADERSn• Solventn• Junior Developmentn• No Salary cap breachesn• No other team in 30 milesnTotal: 4 points – C LicencennWIDNES VIKINGSn• Capacity of 12,000n• Premier Standard Venuen• Solventn• Junior Developmentn• No salary cap breachesnTotal: 5 points – B Licence statusnnLEIGH CENTURIONSn• Capacity of 12,000n• Premier standard venuen• No salary cap breachesn• SolventnTotal: 4 points – C Licence statusnnHALIFAX RLFCn• Solventn• No salary cap breachesnTotal: 2 points – C LicencennFEATHERSTONE ROVERSn• Solventn• No salary cap breachesn• Junior DevelopmentnTotal 3 points – C LicencennAccording to the above stipulation Widnes would, in theory, earn their place in Super League automatically as they have gained B license status, so they become the tenth team to make the final cut. Out of the other teams, I cannot envisage any other side gaining a B license. The only unknown quantity is that of Toulouse, who in truth I know very little about.nnI believe that Super League will definitely contain the following teams; Leeds, Hull, Warrington, Bradford, Huddersfield, Wigan, Saints, Harlequins, Catalan Dragons and Widnes as they are the only teams who gain B license and above. It would be very difficult for the RFL to let any of the C license teams in above the teams listed above.nnThat leaves, in my view, Hull KR, Castleford, Wakefield, Salford, Leigh, Celtic Crusaders, Halifax, Leigh and Featherstone battling it out for four extra places. If these teams all do get C license status it will be up to the RFL so choose, from that list, who they feel will benefit the new era.nnThe hard part is predicting which of these teams will make it through. I would hazard a guess that Hull KR, Castleford and Wakefield would take three of the remaining places. Simply because of the financial implications, with regards to players contracts, if they become null and void. I uses that they would be given the three year stay on condition that they make significant progress towards their work towards a new ground. Then they would lose their place in 2012.nnThat leaves the others fighting it out for the remaining place. Salford, Leigh and Celtic Crusaders are the front runners in the National League, presuming that Toulouse don’t sneak in. My guess is that Celtic Crusaders would gain that extra place as the RFL look to expand to pastures new. Of course this is my opinion and I’m very pretty sure I’ll be wrong. Trying to predict the minds of anybody connected with the RFL is pretty much an impossible undertaking.nnKevin Finney’s predicted Super League make up; Bradford Bulls, Castleford Tigers, Catalan Dragons, Celtic Crusaders, Harlequins RL, Huddersfield Giants, Hull, Hull KR, Leeds Rhinos, St Helens, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Warrington Wolves, Widnes Vikings, and Wigan

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.