Super League CEO Elstone highlights voiding relegation option

Betfred Super League CEO Robert Elstone has expressed his view that the current campaign should temporarily scrap relegation and promotion, with the competition looking towards a July restart date. 

Britain’s biggest domestic Rugby League competition has been suspended since 16 March with various clubs being hit financially due to the lack of match day income. As Britain starts to relax its regulations, plans are not being put in place as to when live-sport resumes and also how organisations plan to structure its competitions. 

Speaking to the Sky Sports’ Golden Point podcast Elstone stated: “It wouldn’t feel right to do that (allow relegation) and I think if we’re not there yet, it seems very likely to me that we will arrive at that point in the near future.

“That clearly has a knock-on into promotion. My belief very strongly is if all those conditions and uncertainties and compromise applies to Super League, such that it’s unrealistic and unfair to relegate, then for me, that has to be mirrored into the Championship.

“So against that very same backdrop it would feel, to me, unreasonable and unfair to promote a team into the Super League in 2021.”

Last week the RFL secured a £16m emergency loan from the government in order to help clubs, from all levels of professional play, survive the COVID-19 crisis. Moreover, Elstone did share that the Super League is planning to resume in July albeit plans could always change due to the unpredictability of the sporting landscape right now.

He said: “All our thinking is about getting restarted and getting this season completed. At the moment, we are hopeful that it will be July, but I just think, this thing feels to me like it’s changing all the time.

“The mantra coming out of football is ‘we have to complete our season’, and that’s very much our mantra right now. We are absolutely focused on getting going as soon as we can and fulfilling the most meaningful fixture list.”

Nevertheless, the Super League suffers from the possibility of international borders still being closed for the foreseeable future. Unlike the Premier League and Bundesliga, the rugby league competition has international teams such as the Toronto Wolfpack participating in the league.

As a result of this, the rugby league competition will also have to address how its teams will be able to face each other while restrictions are in place. 

Elstone continued: “If we want a calendar that works, a calendar that plays out well on TV and a calendar that leads to a decent crescendo and a Grand Final, then we need Catalans and Toronto in it, so we are going to have to find a way to do that.”

The Super League joins a long list of competitions, both in the UK and internationally, planning to restart its season as soon as it is safe to do so. While some events have decided to postpone to a further date, akin to the Tour De France, other competitions have opted for premature conclusions, such as Ligue 1.

Either way, Alstone stressed that the Super League will only resume when it is safe to do so and it has little effect on the National Health Service.

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