Promotion is coming back, reckons Steele

Andrew Frew in Super League action in 2003
Andrew Frew in Super League action in 2003

Halifax chairman Michael Steele believes a shift of opinion among Super League clubs will see the scrapping of top flight licensing and the return of promotion and relegation.

The 14 Super League clubs met behind closed doors at a Lake District hotel this week, with the controversial licensing system - which has become increasingly discredited since its introduction in 2008 - and the number of clubs in the game’s elite competition high on the agenda.

Rumours of a return to promotion and relegation have gathered pace in recent months following the exit of the RFL chairman Richard Lewis, the former Davis Cup tennis player who has joined the Lawn Tennis Association.

And that looks like finally opening the door for Steele and Fax to try and reclaim the top flight place they relinquished almost a decade ago.

“I think there is a general feeling (among Super League clubs) that they cannot continue with licensing in its present form,” said Steele, who launched a scathing attack on the sport’s governing body 18 months ago after cash-strapped Wakefield pipped Fax to a three-year franchise.

“I think if that’s the case, they also accept that promotion and relegation is the system that best fits in with the sporting culture in this country.

“At the moment, no proposals have been put before the Championship clubs, but our meeting is still weeks away and no agenda has been set.

“My guess, and that’s all it is, is that we will go to a 12 team Super League and P and R at the end of the current licence period.

“That would mean the current clubs will still be in place for 2015 and the shake up will come at the end of that season.

“Having said that, there is always the suspicion that something could happen before then because of one of the existing clubs getting into difficulties.

“From our point of view, we remain committed to putting ourselves in the best possible position whenever the opportunity presents itself.”