Chairman Kenny Sykes provides an update to supporters on recent developments in the game:
“We now know that the knock-on effect of Toronto’s demise is that a Championship club will move to Super League. The RFL has decided that the vacancy this creates in the Championship will be filled by a team moving up from League 1.
“I can confirm that Hunslet will not be applying, as we do not meet all the criteria set out by the RFL in terms of average crowd, and a top-four finish in 2018 or 2019.
To be honest we are not overly disappointed with this as we are confident we have assembled a squad that will be challenging for promotion on the field in 2021. We also believe that winning games with an exciting brand of rugby will give us a strong foundation from which to grow our supporter base.
“Obviously we feel that we deserve as much consideration for promotion as any other club in League 1, and we must use this as motivation to secure our place in the Championship through our performances on the pitch.”
The RFL’s decision to restructure will result in fewer teams in League 1 next season. “Our playing budget for 2021 was based on a twelve-team league, generating revenue from eleven home games. The decision by Ottawa to defer their entry until 2022, coupled with a club moving to the Championship, means this has already been reduced to nine home league games.
“However, as you may have seen through the media, discussions are ongoing with the RFL around the fixture structure for 2021, and there are likely to be 1895 Cup and Challenge Cup games in advance of the league season starting.
“Whilst that reduces the chance of having to play league games behind closed doors it does not eliminate the possibility – and any game played behind closed doors risks reducing our revenue even further”.
“Despite that uncertainty we remain confident that we can ride out the storm. We are currently in a stable financial position, thanks in no small part to the loyalty shown by season ticket holders and members in 2020, but we need that to continue throughout 2021.
“We recognise this is a big ask in the current environment, particularly given that there is one less league game, together with the possibility of some games being played behind closed doors in March. But, through you showing your support, we remain confident not only of challenging for promotion this year but also of our long-term future. To that end it is our intention to hold membership fees at 2020 prices.”
“Due to the level of uncertainty sales of season tickets will be delayed until nearer the start of the season. However,we would encourage those supporters who can afford it to take out a membership package, it is the life blood of our Club”
Hunslet, meanwhile, offered a restructuring proposal for the Championship and League 1 of their own earlier this month.
“You may have read that League 1 clubs put forward a proposal to merge the Championship and League 1, to create two Conference divisions, East and West, in 2022 – with promotion to Super League being determined by an eight-team end-of-year play-off between the top four sides in each Conference.
“We were at the forefront of this proposal and Damian Irvine and Neil Hampshire are `fleshing out’ the proposal for further consideration by the RFL.
“There is no doubt that we are living in extremely challenging times, but there is much cause for optimism. With the continued support of members, we are well placed financially to navigate the uncertainties of 2021. We have a squad that will be competitive and challenging for promotion, and we are already starting to plan for 2022” .
And so we shall again.