Crusaders join Super League
Widnes one of five clubs to miss out
Last Updated: 22/07/08 11:20am
Celtic Crusaders and Salford City Reds have joined the 12 current Super League clubs in being handed Super League licences for the next three years.
The news means that Wales will have a team in Super League for the first time from next season. The Crusaders, based in Bridgend, are currently third in National League One.
The five teams who applied for licences and missed out are Widnes, Halifax, Leigh, Featherstone and Toulouse.
Licences were awarded based on a number of criteria, including stadia, fanbase and financial and playing strength.
The RFL decided to adopt the scheme to allow clubs to develop mid to long-term development strategies that they felt were hampered by a promotion and relegation system.
Crusaders chief executive David Thompson told Sky Sports News: "We are absolutely delighted. What we have achieved over two-and-a-half years is incredible, but we know all we have done is get to the starting line.
"We have got a lot of work to do over the next three years to make sure we continue to grow and become stronger."
Salford - relegated from the top flight last year - were also quick to express their joy at the decision. A club statement read: "Salford City Reds are delighted to be back in engage Super League.
"The club had every confidence in its licence application, which was a comprehensive review of all aspects of club operations.
"The granting of a licence based on those documents is testimony that the game's governing body approves of the professional manner in which Salford City Reds currently operates on and off the field.
"We would like to take the opportunity to thank the executive directors at the RFL for their decision which secures the future ambitions of Salford City Reds for the 2009 season and beyond."
Richard Lewis, the RFL's executive chairman, said: "This is a historic day for rugby league and we are once again being innovative and leading the way in British sport by implementing a licensing system that will improve standards both on and off the field in the elite competition.
"We believe licensing has already served to galvanise the sport, stimulating clubs into addressing the issues of facility improvements, spectator comfort and the production of more players.
"Fundamentally, and at its heart, licensing promotes improvement in standards across the board.
"It creates stability and yet crucially keeps open the route into Super League for all aspiring clubs who can demonstrate the required standard. It is a better and fairer way of a club entering engage Super League."