Disappointment for Featherstone Rovers as Leigh Centurions take Super League spot

Featherstone Rovers coach James Webster. Picture by Simon Hulme.Featherstone Rovers coach James Webster. Picture by Simon Hulme.
Featherstone Rovers coach James Webster. Picture by Simon Hulme.
Leigh Centurions will replace Toronto Wolfpack in Betfred Super League next year.

The Lancashire side, relegated in 2017, were chosen from a six-strong shortlist of clubs hoping to be awarded the final spot in Super League 2021.

Rovers' bid was rejected, along with those from York City Knights, Bradford Bulls, Toulouse Olympique and London Broncos.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Toronto were promoted at the end of 2019, but failed to complete the season and clubs voted not to readmit them next year.

John Duffy coached Featherstone before joining Leigh. Picture by Matthew Merrick/SWpix.com.John Duffy coached Featherstone before joining Leigh. Picture by Matthew Merrick/SWpix.com.
John Duffy coached Featherstone before joining Leigh. Picture by Matthew Merrick/SWpix.com.

They also decided to continue with 12 sides in the top flight, leaving a vacancy for a club from the Betfred Championship.

The newcomers, coached by former Rovers boss John Duffy, have just three months to prepare for the new campaign, which begins in March.

They will receive £1m in central funding, which is £800,000 less than their 11 rivals.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Lord Jonathan Caine led a seven-strong panel which reviewed submissions from the six applicants and made the announcement on Sky Sports News on Monday afternoon.

In addition to having played in Super League or finished among the Championship's top-six in 2018 or 2019, applications were limited to clubs with a stadium capacity of at least 5,000 and with an average attendance of more than 2,000 in the past two seasons.

The applications were judged on their ability to enhance the commercial value of the Super League to broadcast and sponsorship partners of Super League Europe; deliver value to other members of Super League; be competitive on the field of play; be sustainable for the 2021 season (and beyond) and as a result of being in Super League, help deliver the broader Goals of the Sport as set out in the RFL Strategy Reset

Lord Caine said: “I was determined from the outset that this process should be robust and conducted to the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and on the basis of ‘rigorous impartiality’ between each of the applicants.

“I am more than satisfied that this was the case.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Each application was judged strictly, but fairly against the agreed criteria that were circulated to clubs and published in November.

“All of the applications were of high quality and I would like to pay tribute to the clubs for the energy and effort they have put into this exercise in what was of necessity a very short time period.”

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone added: “Six weeks after Super League clubs chose to return to a 12-team format, we are delighted to welcome Leigh Centurions to our 2021 competition.

“The independent panel was impressed by Centurions’ application which scored highly on all published criteria and it is a credit to everyone at the club that they were able to produce such a comprehensive submission in such a demanding time frame.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The club has a number of top-class players with Super League experience, a great stadium and a passionate and committed fan base, all of which will add to the 2021 competition.

“I would like to thank Lord Caine for leading the process.

"It has been robust and well-managed from the outset. The panel was unanimous in what it was looking for from the new club and unanimous in awarding the 12th place to the Centurions.

“The final decision points to both the strength of Leigh Centurions’ bid and the alignment throughout the process between Super League and The RFL.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The late and unexpected withdrawal of Toronto Wolfpack presented Super League with many challenges, in a uniquely difficult season.

“We have dealt with them expediently, comprehensively and objectively and I am pleased we can now look forward to another exciting Super League in 2021.”

Ralph Rimmer, the RFL chief executive, said: “Congratulations to Leigh Centurions, who will take the best wishes of all clubs in the Betfred Championship and League One, as well as the Rugby Football League, as they prepare to return to the Super League in 2021.

“This process has been a credit to all involved and has underlined the quality of the clubs in the Betfred Championship - which has been such a compelling competition in recent years.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I know the five clubs whose Super League applications have been unsuccessful will be disappointed, but I also know they will be excited by the prospect of the Betfred Championship in 2021, especially following last week’s decision to elevate Newcastle Thunder from Betfred League One.

“The players and supporters of all clubs at this level have endured such a long and frustrating period without any action since the initial lockdown in March, but there is light at the end of the tunnel - and with a meeting of Championship and League 1 clubs later this week, we hope to be able to provide further details of the plans for 2021 very soon.”

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.