Super League: Top-flight clubs back radical re-structure
Super League clubs have given the thumbs up to a radical re-structure of the domestic game.
Last Updated: 18/01/14 10:14am
Months of uncertainty and in-fighting were brought to an end on Friday when the 14 Super League clubs, as expected, voted to cut their numbers to 12 at the end of this season.
Less predictably, they also agreed to back the Rugby Football League's (RFL) convoluted plan to split two divisions of 12 teams into three of eight two-thirds of the way through the 2015 season to determine both the Super League title and the make-up of the top flight for the following year.
The idea has been slammed as a gimmick by its detractors but it is expected to be ratified by the RFL board of directors next week and the clubs seem determined to make it work.
Salford owner Marwan Koukash, who is a big critic of the RFL over the salary-cap regulations, has thrown his considerable weight behind the shake-up.
"A democratic decision was made by Super League clubs on the recommendation of the RFL on the future structure of the competition," Koukash said. "Let's make it work."
Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington, who accused rebel clubs of "holding a gun to the head of the sport" after they walked out of a meeting in October to prevent a vote being taken, was delighted to see the end of the all the uncertainty, just three weeks before the start of Super League XIX.
Direction of the game
"Everybody now knows where we are going to be in the forthcoming season," said the Rhinos supremo.
"It has still to be ratified by the RFL board of directors but there was a majority vote from the Super League clubs and there was unanimous support from the Championship clubs so it should be a rubber-stamping exercise."
Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan, who led October's walkout amid calls for a greater say by Super League clubs in the running of the game, was also pleased to see the deadlock broken.
"I think it's definitely progress," Lenagan said. "Exchange of different views is only good for the game. I come out of the talks with a positive view."
The league say full details of the new structure, which will see the bottom two teams relegated from Super League at the end of this season regardless of location, will be announced later this month, with questions yet to be answered over finance and governance in particular.
The so-called rebels were angry over plans to increase the Championship clubs' allocation of funds from the Sky television deal and called for a greater say in the running of the game.
The 14 Super League clubs met to discuss the issue of governance on Tuesday but the meeting broke up without any agreement and they are set to reconvene later this month.