The RFL will protect clubs if promotion and relegation is re-introduced in the new Super League re-structure

Last Updated: 18/07/13 12:55pm

Nigel Wood says that standards will still be important in the new Super League structure.

After five years of licencing agreements, the decision has been made to reduce the number of Super League clubs from 14 to 12 from 2015. The clubs will also decide the best format for the game that will hopefully sustain and provide a bright future.

One format being discussed is to have 12 clubs in Super League and 12 in the Championship with a straightforward system of promotion and relegation between the two. The format being pushed by the RFL involves both Super League and the Championship being split after 23 rounds into three qualifying play-off groups of eight clubs.

The changes have been welcomed, however, there is a concern that the minimum standards that were so important in the 14 clubs getting a licence in 2009, will be forgotten.

"There is still a role to play for minimum standards, financial solvency, junior production and all of those things, but fundamentally it is about what goes on in the field," explained RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood on Boots 'n' All.

"Licencing was introduced on a two cycle basis of three years, and we always said that we needed to review it at the end of that period to see whether the gains that the game expected did actually accrue. There were some gains but our losses are still more than the league wants to bear.

"What this review is about is putting on field performance back in the middle of where a club actually competes - at what level they compete. We are not throwing away minimum standards or the other benefits around licencing but we are making on field performances the primary determinant of which league you play in.

"We have got some world class clubs at the top of our competition, and what we are trying to do is allow them to increase their income earning possibilities to make sure that they stay international competitive.

"We have had other clubs who maybe have not had the impact over the five year protection that licencing offered - maybe they have not made the progress that we hoped they would make and in reality it is only fair and right that some of the better clubs at Championship level get a crack at those clubs on a regular basis."

Promotion and relegation has been another major concern as one of the reasons for bringing in the licensing system was to prevent clubs from doing anything to avoid relegation - often to the detriment of the club which pushed them over the edge and into financial ruin. However, Wood says that if they do go back to that they will make sure that is not the case.

"If we just went back to promotion and relegation without the redistribution of the funds into the top of the Championship then that is precisely what would happen - you would have clubs scrabbling around trying to avoid relegation and clubs believing that elusive promotion place would be the answer to all their ills.

"The whole concept of having 12 and then 8 is to put some money into that middle tier and to say to those clubs that that is the standard you need to get to if you want to compete at the bottom of Super League and you need to get over that standard before you get into Super League proper.

"If there was no redistribution of money then it would be futile exercise just to reopen promotion and relegation."