Written by Callum Walker
Rugby League and the sporting world, in general, are in unprecedented times. Never before has anything been seen like it, yet the way in which clubs are handling themselves deserves praise. For Super League, there has been a great deal of noise surrounding the likelihood of it becoming one with the Rugby Football League yet again, but there has also been a lot of speculation about what kind of structure the sport needs going forward.
Whilst there have been calls for relegation to be scrapped for 2020, there has been no shortage of demands from Championship clubs to keep promotion. That would mean an expansion of the current number of sides, whether that be to 13 or 14.
At present, top-flight sides are required to play 29 games, home and away once with a Magic Weekend round and six further ‘loop’ games. These loop games are decided using two pools of odds versus evens on account of the previous season’s league positions.
Scrapping those loop fixtures would be a way of making such an expanded league work. And, for those who get sick of the same teams playing each other four or five times a season, it would certainly be a breath of fresh air to an outdated system.
Those already in the top flight may well be averse to such an expanded league given the fact that Sky money from the broadcasters would be divided between 14 instead of 12. And, clubs are going to look after their own as everyone saw when the 12 Super League sides drifted away from the RFL barely years ago.
Bringing in two extra sides would also mean a likely reshuffle in the Championship. 14 teams currently occupy the second tier whilst 11 teams sit in League One with Hemel Stags’ withdrawal and the planned introduction of Canadian side Ottawa Aces next season.
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) May 8, 2020
With Championship teams only having played five rounds tho – and some teams haven’t even played that amount yet – deciding which two sides will join the Super League would be extremely difficult. Unless the season is completed, those places could not be given out on the basis of results in 2020 which begs the question, how else would they be awarded?
As lockdown continues to drag on, questions about the sport’s future increase. For perhaps the greatest fairness, promotion must be kept in some kind of capacity. And, that is why a larger Super League for 2021 should be touted as the most reasonable outcome.