Su­per 8s axed for new sys­tem

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

THE Su­per 8s have been axed in favour of a re­turn to the tra­di­tional one-up, one-down sys­tem of pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion.

Clubs voted by a ma­jor­ity of two to one at an ex­traor­di­nary gen­eral meet­ing in Manch­ester to change the game’s do­mes­tic struc­ture with just three weeks left of the 2018 sea­son.

It means the rad­i­cal Su­per 8s has been ditched af­ter four years and the Su­per League Grand Finalists in 2019 will be de­ter­mined by a five-club play-off.

All teams will play each other once home and away and there will be six “loop” fix­tures in ad­di­tion to the Magic Week­end which will give all clubs 29 fix­tures.

The move was op­posed by Leeds and the ma­jor­ity of Cham­pi­onship and League 1 clubs dur­ing a vit­ri­olic de­bate which fol­lowed a move by Su­per League clubs to take con­trol of their own destiny and ap­point their own chief ex­ec­u­tive in Robert El­stone.

A deal to change the struc­ture and put in place new fi­nan­cial ar­range­ments for life be­yond the next tele­vi­sion deal was bro­kered by El­stone and Rugby Football League chief ex­ec­u­tive Ralph Rim­mer and was passed in a se­cret con­vo­luted bal­lot by 36.8 votes to 17.2.

Rim­mer said: “I would hope it’s done and dusted now - the board have con­vened and rat­i­fied the de­ci­sion.

“There’s a sense of re­lief be­cause I think we’ve got a lot more pos­i­tives in the sport to cel­e­brate than the kind of dis­cus­sions we’ve had in re­cent months.

“It’s a line in the sand as far as I’m con­cerned.”

Wi­gan chair­man Ian Le­na­gan, who led the move to ditch the Su­per 8s, de­scribed his feel­ing as “to­tal and ut­ter re­lief”.

“I think it’s very pos­i­tive for rugby league,” he said. “I think it’s a big pos­i­tive for rugby league gen­er­ally.

“We’ve prob­a­bly spent 12 months mark­ing time.

“Now we can get on with driv­ing the game of rugby league - and par­tic­u­larly Su­per League - for­ward.

“It was 66 per cent in favour which is rather good. There had to be at least four Cham­pi­onship clubs and there were sig­nif­i­cantly more than that.”

El­stone says the vote has given him a man­date to make changes and he is­sued a call for unity.

“There’s clearly an el­e­ment of re­lief be­cause there’s a phe­nom­e­nal amount of work gone into this over the last three months,” he said. “That un­cer­tainty hasn’t been good for the game and we need unity.

“The job starts now for the RFL and me be­cause now we know where we’re go­ing and where we are - it’s about de­liv­er­ing on these lofty vi­sions we have.

“It’s im­por­tant we’ve got that man­date. I came back into rugby league be­cause I pas­sion­ately be­lieve in it.

“Su­per League is the pin­na­cle of it but I’m here to make rugby league as good as it can be.”

Leeds chief ex­ec­u­tive Gary Hether­ing­ton de­clined to com­ment af­ter the meet­ing, say­ing he would re­flect on the out­come be­fore mak­ing any com­ment.

Feather­stone chair­man Mark Camp­bell, a mem­ber of the Cham­pi­onship and League 1 ad­vi­sory panel which led the op­po­si­tion to the RFL pro­posal, ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment over the fail­ure of the non-Su­per League clubs to pro­vide a united front but called for the game to unite.

“I’m strug­gling to see why they would go with the pro­posal to be hon­est but ev­ery­body has got their own cir­cum­stances,” Camp­bell said.

“We’ve lost the vote but it’s been a good process and we’ve done all we could to give ev­ery­body the in­for­ma­tion we thought they needed to know. It’s been a fair vote and we’ve got to get be­hind it now.”

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