Super League to reunite with Rugby Football League less than two years on from their acrimonious split from the governing body
- The 12 Super League clubs broke away from the RFL midway through 2018
- The move was made to increase revenues but sparked a civil war within the sport
- However, the coronavirus pandemic has left clubs in serious financial trouble
- There is an acceptance that the costly Super League board must be scrapped
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Super League is set for a seismic U-turn by reuniting with the Rugby Football League – less than two years since an acrimonious split from the governing body.
The 12 Super League clubs broke away from the RFL midway through 2018 in a bid to increase revenues with the current television deal with Sky up for renewal next year.
The move sparked a civil war within the sport and saw Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington and St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus embark in a bitter war of words over the wisdom of the split.
Super League is set for a seismic U-turn by reuniting with the Rugby Football League
Now, however, the coronavirus pandemic has left many clubs in serious financial trouble and there is an acceptance among top-flight chairmen that the costly Super League board must be scrapped.
The operation is headed up by former Everton supremo Robert Elstone, understood to be on an annual salary of around £ 400,000, with several commercial, marketing and media staff working under him.
They are based at plush premises in Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter but there have been concerns over a duplication of roles with the RFL and Super League.
Now the majority of Super League clubs have admitted the split was a mistake and are ready to disband the operation in a desperate bid to slash costs.
Hull KR chairman Neil Hudgell said: ‘The rules of engagement have changed from two years ago and the duplication in central resources is no longer sustainable or justified.
“I think we need to be seen to be getting our house in order by making some cuts.”
A similar scenario – where Super League clubs split from the RFL before coming back under their control – occurred almost two decades ago.
Warrington and St Helens were among sides to break away from the RFL midway through 2018
History will now repeat itself as clubs fight for survival after being given a £ 16million bail-out from Government this week.
The RFL are facing major losses with this year’s Ashes series between England and Australia – with Test matches scheduled for Bolton, Leeds and Tottenham in the autumn – expected to be canceled due to the pandemic.
The £ 16million emergency loan will be utilized by the RFL themselves to cover their own financial shortfall and, as the governing body, they will field applications from Super League, Championship and League 1 clubs for a slice of the fund.
Yet RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer warned: “It’s certainly not a gravy train – there are conditions attached to this money and we’ll use it wisely to steer ourselves into a better place.”
Meanwhile, former RFL supremo Nigel Wood will step down as chief executive of the International Rugby League at the end of the year.
He has served on the IRL board for the past 18 years and could now increase his involvement at Bradford Bulls after being part of a consortium who took over the club last year.
Hull KR chairman Neil Hudgell said the rules of engagement have changed from two years ago