Super League’s 12th club can compete with £1m funding, says Robert Elstone

Super League supremo Robert Elstone claims £1million of central funding should be enough to enable the club that fills the vacant 12th place in 2021 to be competitive, especially with anticipated player wage cuts.

Clubs currently receive around £1.8m each from television revenue but can expect a reduction next season after Sky negotiated a rebate due to the number of matches lost in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Even with a cut, however, they will have a distinct financial advantage over the newly-promoted club and there are fears that the newcomers will be set up to fail on a £1m budget.

“We debated that for quite some time,” Elstone said. “There were a range of views as to what we should be awarding and we came to a consensus that a million was a number that would allow a club to compete and build a squad that had a chance.

“But most fundamentally, there was a feeling that the whole economics of Super League are suppressed and the consequence would be that spending on player wages will be reduced and therefore, with that level of support from the centre, a club could be competitive.

“It was a combination of current economic climate, the player market and general affordability across Super League.”

With Elstone confirming the intention is to restore promotion and relegation at the end of 2021, he accepts the replacement for Toronto will face a battle to survive.

“On the basis we’re all vaccinated and safe, then in a 12-team Super League, we’re committed to a promotion and relegation,” the executive chairman said.

“The clubs felt that with a good coach and good existing squad and with that level of funding, a club could come into Super League and be competitive.

“Clearly it will be a challenge and they’ll need to have a good coach and recruit well but clubs felt it was the right amount of money.”


Meanwhile, the decision to reject Toronto’s re-application casts doubt over the long-term prospects of Canada’s other club, Ottawa, who had planned to enter League 1 in 2021.

Those plans have been put back 12 months because of travel restrictions caused by the continuing pandemic but Elstone suggests Toronto’s apparent failure to demonstrate the viability of Super League in Canada could block the Aces’ path to the top of the pyramid.

“It’s a question that should be a concern,” Elstone said. “We agreed terms with RFL on promotion and relegation but have put conditions on the number of overseas clubs permitted.

“We’re allowed to limit the number in Super League so we’re protected in terms of the number of outright overseas clubs but Toronto’s demise probably opens the opportunity for another Canadian club to take its place.

“That would give us great concern based on what we’ve written. It was interesting when Toronto looked like they were going to be promoted in 2018, we tried to push for evidence of due diligence and sustainability and then we asked again in 2019.

“Now I’m fully aware the challenges of getting proper due-diligence are not easy but the reality is that when they were first admitted, there was no commercial appraisal.

“It was opportunistic, it wasn’t strategic and the level of due-diligence was modest.

“If the same is applied to Ottawa, there’s a danger we’re making the same mistake again and Super League should be concerned about that.”

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  1. To be completely honest you’ve absolutely learned nothing from the Toronto saga , all 12 teams in super league should be given the same amount of money not 1 team on 1 million and 11 teams on 1.8 million , hows that a level playing field at the start of the new season . Your just talking utter and total boloxs . Just leave the sport and go somewhere else

  2. Why are ottwa being let in what are they going to bring what Toronto didnt the idoits that run superleague and the rest of the rugby league cudnt run a circus

  3. Totally agree. What super League are doing will be the demise of the sport as a fully professional game and basically make it a second tier game
    With no hope of expansion.

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