Tue 12 Jun 2018 17.10 BSTFirst published on Tue 12 Jun 2018 16.28 BST
The Super 8 structure will disappear at the end of this season with a return to a more conventional one-up, one-down format between Super League and the Championship for 2019.
The format, in which the top two divisions are split into three tiers of eight – before the middle eight compete in the Qualifiers for the final four places in Super League the following year – has drawn much criticism since its introduction in 2015.
While promotion and relegation will remain in a revised structure for 2019, clubs have approved a more traditional format from the start of next season.
The only club to vote against the change was Leeds whose chief executive, Gary Hetherington, said it was “an absurd grab for power for the game by a small group of men who think they own the game”.
Ian Lenagan, the Wigan owner, said: “We are committed to promotion and relegation. It’s not going to be four clubs in jeopardy any more – but one being promoted and one being relegated. We are planing for it to take effect for the beginning of 2019.”
The new Super League chief executive, Robert Elstone, said: “We have looked at a competitive structure that really isn’t working: effectively it provides too much uncertainty.
“The job starts with building a positive working relationship with the Rugby Football League and that’s recognising Super League’s responsibilities to the wider game, too.”
Eamonn McManus, the St Helens chairman, said: “After four years we don’t believe the Super 8s is the optimum structure which produces the optimum commercial returns. We do see tremendous opportunities for Super League and the wider game.”
Lenagan also denied claims that Super League’s attempt to be more in control of its own destiny– which included the appointment of Elstone – was not a breakaway from the RFL, and said no matter what changes are made for 2019 the funding given to the lower leagues will be unaffected until at least the end of the broadcast deal which runs to 2021.
“The RFL remains the governing body. The top tier of football is well focused and has been successful, as has the top tier in Australia, the NRL. We believe it is very important that there is sole focus is on Super League in order to grow the game significantly.”
Toronto and Toulouse better make their move this season!
Promotion/relegation never seems to work all that well as it takes a couple of years to recruit solid players and get used to the step up which is lost again when they get quickly relegated.
Was glad when they scrapped it in mitre 10 cup as the same teams were too good for 1 division but not good enough for the next level without a couple of consistent years
The RFL have subsequently come out and said the new promotion and relegation format isn't yet agreed. five of the clubs actually voted against it.
Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington, one of the five, issued the following statement.
Today’s announcement regarding plans for next season appear to be an absurd grab for power for the game by a small group of men who think they own the game.
Leeds Rhinos are not party to this and are totally against the creation of a separate Super League executive. Super League clubs voted 7 to 5 at our last meeting on some key issues related to promotion and relegation.
The game is in need of strong leadership from Brian Barwick and his Board of Directors at the Rugby Football League, the games governing body, and this announcement should bring a response from everyone connected with the game.