Fax put on SL stand by?

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SPECULATION was growing ahead of today’s Super League licencing announcement at Old Trafford that Halifax could effectively find themselves on stand-by for a move into the top flight as early as 2013.

Rugby Football League chairman Richard Lewis was due to announce at 11am which 13 clubs will join already-promoted Widnes in next season’s elite competition.

It is widely expected that struggling Wakefield will be relegated, with Fax - who have already been told they meet the licence criteria - the other club to miss out.

But it also appears the clubs in line for C grade licences - effectively what Fax and the Wildcats would be aiming for - could be warned they face possible demotion to the Co-operative Championship if they fail to fulfil their promises over the next 18 months.

The RFL board have always held the power to revoke the three-year licences early, although so far they have not used it.

That could be about to change though, with Castleford looking to be particularly vulnerable - despite relative on-field success and a strong fan base - because of continued problems with their relocation from Wheldon Road to their long awaited new stadium just off the M62.

“As far as we are concerned, that is just a rumour at the moment, although it is one we have heard,” said Fax chairman Michael Steele.

“In terms of going into Super League next year, I am not particularly expecting good news today.

“The RFL have already made it very clear that the experiment of expansion, if that’s what you want to call it, will continue and that neither of the expansion clubs, Crusaders or Harlequins, are in any danger of dropping out.

“Given that, and the fact the competition will remain at 14 teams, it is difficult to see a scenario where both us and Widnes will be admitted immediately.

“In terms of our finances, we have certainly not gambled anything on being promoted.

“Our bid has cost us a lot of time and energy, but the club’s business plan is not dependent on it being successful immediately.”

Finally, Courier Sport understands, unlike three years ago, today’s announcement will not include the reasons for the acceptance or rejection of individual licence bids.

Instead, clubs will be notified in private with the details only being revealed later.

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