Toronto chairman Bob Hunter is optimistic his club’s revised application to re-join Super League will win over the other 11 clubs, claiming the new version demonstrates a higher level of professionalism.
The Wolfpack pulled out of the league in July, blaming the impact of the coronavirus pandemic for their financial woes, and their first submission for re-entry in 2021 was condemned by delegates a month ago ago as inadequate.
However, the Canadian club were given another chance to prove both their financial sustainability and their worth to Super League and Hunter says the latest bid includes more input from potential new owner Carlo LiVolsi, who hopes to get the opportunity to address the delegates himself next week.
“We’re re-submitting on Friday,” Hunter told the PA news agency. “We don’t know the exact timing going forward but we’re hoping there will be a meeting next week in which Carlo LiVolsi will speak to the club owners and the executive and hopefully after that there will be a vote and we’ll know which way we’re going.
“The owners said they wanted to see more detail which was good for us. Anything that keeps us in the game is a positive sign.
“I am optimistic that this submission shows a higher level of professionalism than the first one, which was somewhat rushed, and that we add value to the league.”
Previous owner David Argyle, who backed the club from their entry into League 1 in 2017, says he pulled the plug on their inaugural season in Super League, leaving a huge amount of debt, because the impact of coronavirus crippled him financially.
LiVolsi has pledged to pay the players’ four months of outstanding wages, thought to be in excess of £500,000, if the club are re-admitted to Super League but Hunter admits Covid-19 is still threatening to cause major disruption in 2021.
The club have spent the first six weeks of each season so far playing all their games in England because of the harsh Canadian climate and the unavailability of the council-owned Lamport Stadium until April but Hunter concedes that, if there is no let-up from the virus, the club could find themselves unable to play in Toronto at all in 2021.
“Who knows what next year is going to look like? “he said. “We have issues with the airlines, we have issues with the whole logistical challenges which may mean we’re in the UK for the whole season.”
Hunter says the club have sounded out potential venues for 2021 and have worked out how much it would cost to play the full season in the UK.
“We’re looking at two or three different opportunities that have been presented,” he said. “There are a couple of new venues over there that look quite appealing.
“I’d rather not say who they are right now because we need to understand what the situation is first, whether we’re going to play five games or whether going to play all of our home games over there.
“Carlo knows that that’s a risk but we’ve done a model that says, if we had to stay in the UK for the 2021 season, here’s the impact, we know what that number is.”
Former Leeds boss Brian McDermott is still on board as head coach and Hunter expects Sonny Bill Williams to return to the club following his short-term stint with Sydney Roosters if they find themselves back in Super League.
“Many things can change but, when Sonny left, he was keen on staying on and we’d love to have him back,” Hunter said.
“He is an exceptional athlete and, unless someone says he’s changed his mind, we are expecting him back.”
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