Widnes CEO urges RFL to stick with current structure


Widnes chief executive James Rule has urged the RFL to stick with the current licensing system over one of the three newly proposed structures.

The first round of the consultation process on the RFL’s Policy Review concluded on Friday, revealing three new competition structures for Super League and the Championship with a view to changing the structure of the game from 2015 onwards.

“Personally my opinion is that the current structure is the right structure,” said Rule. “I understand the desire to change and the desire for change driven by a number of different agendas. Relegation and promotion generates excitement from the fan base, I accept that.  I think there are some clubs that feel a smaller competition would lead to a greater share of central distribution of funding, I understand that.

“Licensing should be the way forward, whether that stays in the game or not remains to be seen but I think we’re the perfect example of how licensing should work. If it goes back to relegation and promotion and playoff structures, then all your resources will go into players and I don’t see how that can necessarily be good for the long term future of the game.”

The Vikings, who are in the second year of their license since coming up from the Championship in 2012, currently occupy 11th in Super League, two points outside of the playoffs after propping up the bottom of the table last season. 

But the present system has been under fire ever since its inception in 2008, with the recent financial problems of Salford, Bradford, Crusaders and Wakefield going in to administration, and investment struggles at Hull KR and Castleford all being linked to the current structure.

The former Hull FC Chief Executive said how the constant change in rugby league is doing the sport no good.

He said, “Licensing does have an element of relegation and promotion and I think there is a danger for our sport that we just keep changing. We were promotion and relegation, we were 12 teams and now 14 teams, now we’re licensing and now we’re thinking of going into a playoff structure.

“There’s a lot of change there, I think we have to be realistic in how many teams this game can support and how many teams are ready whatever the structure, how many clubs are ready to contribute in Super League.”

The consultation process is expected to continue throughout the summer with any recommendations being voted upon later in the year.


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