Written by Callum Walker
If the current coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we are stronger united than divided. With that in mind, it seems almost the perfect time for Super League and the RFL to once more be part of the same entity.
In 2018, Super League clubs voted in the majority for a split away from the Rugby Football League following a series of bitter infighting. Robert Elstone – ex-Everton FC chief executive – became chief executive of Super League as the competition entered a new era, essentially free from governing body oversight.
Less than two years since signing the divorce papers, it appears almost inevitable that the RFL and Super League will need to bang their heads together if clubs are to survive. Currently, the game is not big enough for two separate bodies to go head-to-head and it is the RFL that is in the driving seat.
Whilst Elstone championed the original split, it is RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer leading the charge in government negotiations to receive some kind of bailout deal. That would mean a bailout for ALL clubs, not just those in Super League. And, more importantly, it would mean that the RFL would get the money, not the clubs, and it would be THAT governing body in charge of its distribution.
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) April 11, 2020
But, categorically, there will be no funds released if the sport is split. And, with the RFL enjoying an advantage, Super League clubs may well be forced to eat humble pie and scrap that level of autonomy that they achieved with the original break away.
If that is the case, then the RFL will yet again hold all the cards, though Super League chairmen may well get a greater say in the newly-organised restructure.
What makes the merger even more likely is the fact that if there is money at stake and the difference between accepting and rejecting is the difference between surviving and dying, then clubs are not exactly going to let pride stand in the way. And, if they do, then more fool them for destroying their club.