An explanation of what the Super League and Championship leagues are and how an application process for Championship clubs to Super League became available

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In professional rugby league, there are two main divisions which are:

Betfred Super League

Betfred Super League

Betfred Championship

RFL Championship - Wikipedia

Below will be an explanation of them both:

The Betfred Super League is the elite competition of England’s rugby league pyramid.   It has twelve  teams usually, but towards the end of the elongated 2020 season, it had eleven  teams, one from France and ten from England, and this was because Toronto Wolfpack felt they couldn’t compete due to the Covid pandemic.

The Betfred Championship is England’s second tier competition.  It has fourteen teams, but unfortunately due to Covid, after only four rounds of matches the season had to get suspended and eventually cancelled.

After Toronto Wolfpack felt they couldn’t finish the season in Super League due to Covid, it meant the season which restarted in August had eleven teams and not the required twelve and this then left an opportunity for the Championship clubs to apply.

This started in mid-November, and clubs had until the 30th November to get their applications in.

The six teams that applied for the vacant 12th place in Super League 2021 were:

Bradford Bulls

Bradford Bulls - Wikipedia

Featherstone Rovers

Featherstone Rovers - Wikipedia

Leigh Centurions

Leigh Centurions - Wikipedia

London Broncos

London Broncos - Wikipedia

York City Knights

Home - York City Knights : York City Knights

Toulouse Olympique

Toulouse Olympique - Wikipedia

The criteria for clubs to apply for Super League included:

The initial criteria were:

Club was in the Super League or finished in the top six of the Championship in either 2018 or 2019

The stadium has an operational capacity of 5,000

Club has an average attendance of at least 2,000 in the 2018 or 2019 season

The criteria covered the following categories:

  1. Market size and Commercial Potential (this included social media and digital footprint, season tickets sale, attendances, merchandise sales )
  2. Future Performance and Growth Plans
  3. Playing performance
  4. Facilities and availability to host live TV broadcast and key partners (car parking spaces, Sky Sports, Radio)
  5. Finance and Sustainability
  6. Ownership, Management and Governance

So all the clubs got their applications in by November 30th and then it was a waiting game for the clubs.

The decision was due to be made on Wednesday 16th December, but was brought forward to Monday December 14th at 12:30pm on Sky Sports News.

Lord Caine who was the main person on the panel said “I was determined from the outset that this process should be robust and conducted to the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and on the basis of ‘rigorous impartiality’ between each of the applicants.

“I am more than satisfied that this was the case.

“Each application was judged strictly but fairly against the agreed criteria that were circulated to clubs and published in November.

“All of the applications were of high quality and I would like to pay tribute to the clubs for the energy and effort they have put into this exercise in what was of necessity a very short time period.”

Then he announced that the panel had decided that Leigh Centurions will be the 12th team in Super League 2021, which means Bradford, Featherstone, York, Toulouse and London miss out.

The Featherstone CEO Davide Longo said “The decision to not promote Featherstone Rovers “leaves a bitter taste in the mouth”.

“We are bitterly disappointed.  We put a very strong application together and we felt that on the field and off the field we are in a really good position – to not only get into Super League but to compete as well.

“For the fans who have stood by the club for many a year now, again, it leaves a slight bitter taste in the mouths that we have had the doors slammed shut again.

“But we are looking forward to 2021 – we can focus on the Championship.  It is a fantastic competition, no doubt about it, and there are five or six teams that can get promoted next season. We need to stay focussed – we know what we have to do now.”

Featherstone were just 80 minutes away from winning promotion last year, going down 24-6 to Toronto Wolfpack in the Million Pound Game and Longo says the loss made them want to compete even more at the highest level.

“We came so close in 2019 – we literally tasted Super League and the defeat to Toronto kind of left us wanting a little bit more,” he added.

“We strengthened the team and we started the season undefeated – we played six games, and were unbeaten.  We know where our squad is now.

“I cannot wait to see the team being put together and start competing on the field.”

OPINION:  A Featherstone fans hopes for the club’s centenary year  (By Dan Crossfield from Dan’s Sports Blog)

I’m disappointed that Super League didn’t choose a club such as Featherstone to be in Super League as I felt we deserved a chance having come so close in 2019, but I congratulate Leigh Centurions.   I hope in 2021 with it being Featherstone’s centenary year, they can perform well and hopefully get promotion to Super League for the 2022 season on the field to celebrate their centenary year.

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