Super League chief Robert Elstone says they have been weighing up the pros and cons of running with an 11-team competition, if Toronto Wolfpack don’t make the grade for 2021.
The Wolfpack have been given another four weeks to re-submit their application to re-join the competition for 2021, but if they aren’t voted back in, Super League faces another decision as to whether to invite another team to take Toronto’s place or to run with an odd number.
Since Super League was founded in 1996, the competition has never run with less than 12 teams – until Toronto’s withdrawal ahead of the re-start in August. It increased to 14 teams for the 2009 season, but reverted back to 12 after six seasons.
Elstone said: “We have to give that due consideration. We’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last few weeks looking at the pros and cons of 11 and 12, and there are things in favour of both camps.
“Clubs have differing views, and that will be part of the process over the next few weeks to look and see what’s right for Super League.
“We face a tough year financially as people know, we will be absorbing a Sky rebate, and there’s every chance crowds aren’t going to come back as quick as would hope.
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“Next year is a tough year for us. In a discussion about 11 v 12, there are obvious advantages of 12 in terms of competition format, but there are financial pressures that may push it in a different direction.”
There has been speculation about a mini-licensing round to find a club to replace Toronto, with several Championship clubs having expressed interest in taking their place in Super League.
But if next season starts at the end of January, by the time the decision on Toronto is made, there will be less than three months for any new club to be admitted and then to prepare.
An odd number of teams in the competition will also create a head ache around the Magic Weekend, which wouldn’t be able to run in its traditional form unless Toronto, or a replacement, take to the field.
Elstone says Toronto have been given a deadline of October 23 for their revised submission, which will then be considered by the Super League board.