“We can now plan with a greater degree of certainty” was Hunslet CEO Neil Hampshire’s reaction to Wednesdays Championship and League 1 restructure announcement.

“There is no doubt that the uncertainty over the last few years following Covid, from the introduction of grading, the new Broadcast deal through to the loss of Clubs from League 1 and the impact of that on the league structure format, have provided challenges for all clubs. But now, whilst we haven’t got exactly the outcome we would have wanted, we have worked closely with the RFL and all Championship and League 1 Clubs in order to reach a fair compromise. The major benefit is that we can now start to plan for the future with far more confidence than has been the case recently.”

Hampshire continued “The transition of the Championship from 14 to 12 teams was always going to be difficult. As an example, teams in both divisions had already set budgets for 2024, to either gain promotion or avoid relegation. So, having a one off game between the 12th place Championship side and League 1 Play-Off winner to decide the last Championship place in 2024 was probably the fairest option. The introduction of the Super 8’s in 2025 also provides greater excitement to the play offs, whilst allowing us the opportunity to finalise the transition over a 2 year period in a fair way. I think it’s important that whatever Rugby League fans think about the new structure, they all recognise and understand that it has taken a lot of hard work and negotiation to get to this point and every Club has been involved in the consultation process with the RFL. I would now urge everyone to rally round to support and promote “The Greatest Game” to the widest possible audience.”

Hampshire did acknowledge one area that would need to be carefully managed going forward. “Of course if, in the future, we get to a position whereby there are, say,14 Clubs in Grade A, or we see other Clubs unfortunately fall by the wayside, then that would of course have a knock on impact to the Championship and League 1. To that end, we will continue to work with the RFL and all fellow Clubs on potential mitigation strategies to manage either of those scenarios quickly and efficiently.”

Hampshire ended by saying “With this clarity we can now begin work on developing our short, medium and long term plans, which will include finalising a review of our current Board structure to ensure we are best placed to meet the Challenges ahead. As ever, if any new fans, investors, sponsors or partners want to join us on our journey you will be welcomed into the Hunslet family with open arms.”