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Elstone: The ball is in Toronto’s court

27 Sep 20, 7:06AM 0 Comments

Written by John Davidson

Super League boss Robert Elstone has admitted Toronto Wolfpack’s initial submission to rejoin the competition next year was “disappointing”, with the Canadian club given a another chance to prove why it should be allowed back in.

Elstone said Toronto’s application did not provide enough evidence and financial detail on the viability of both the club and generally of rugby league in Canada.

He said Carlo LiVolsi, the prospective new owner of the Wolfpack after David Argyle’s departure, conceded he had not given his full attention to the club’s first application and has asked for a second chance. LiVolsi has been given four weeks, with a deadline of October 23, to provide more detail about his investment plans for the Canadian side.

“LivVolsi admitted it hadn’t had his full attention and applied the resources necessary to it,” Elstone said.

“He held his hand up that and said give me a second chance… it’s the right thing to do. The club has to prove that it’s viable in its own right. That through local revenues it can be profitable or sustainable.

“Beyond that, the question is will Super League and the member clubs be better off at some point in the foreseeable future from having a team in Toronto [in terms of adding additional revenues]. What we saw first time around [with the submission], frankly, was disappointing.

“What we hope to see is something much more stronger. The clubs are open minded to give them the chance to say if you can do it right second time around, and it’s robust and every box is ticked, then absolutely they would consider it fairly and objectively at that point in time.

“The balls in their court.”

Elstone said the Wolfpack’s original submission did not have enough evidence and financial projects, but claimed it is the right thing to give them more time.

“We reviewed the submission that the club had had for some time and came to those conclusions,” he said.

“Those were the only conclusions we could come to, and they were fair and reasonable conclusions.

“But subsequent to that, Mr LiVolsi reached out to us and asked for more time. We felt it was the right thing to do to be seen to be giving him and the club every opportunity.

“The reason for the demise of the club, if that’s the right word, was that Covid played a big, big part in that and they are exceptional circumstances that everybody knows.

“Given that, we felt it was only right to give him an opportunity to re-submit.”

Over the next week Super League will also review the due diligence taken by the RFL to initially allow Toronto into the structure in 2017, and also look into the decision to accept Ottawa Aces in for 2021.

“We will do our own work on the commercial viability of Super League in Canada,” Elstone said.

“I do think the club has an obligation and there an onus on the club to look at that and we asked for that…. We’ll look at what work was done by the RFL at the time Toronto was first admitted into the competition, to see if any work was done when Ottawa was granted its application to come in.

“But alongside that we’ll work and see what evidence we can find.”

Elstone said no decision has been made yet whether Super League will continue with 11 teams or 12 teams next year.

“We face a tough year financially and we need to consider that on 11 vs 12,” he said.

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