A statement from Batley Bulldogs’ Chairman Kevin Nicholas ahead of the Council meeting planned for 14th September.

As a member of the Championship/ League 1 Advisory Group, I have the following update to make ahead of this week’s important meeting of all members.

Last Friday we had a meeting of our Clubs for the Group to outline the present position and as much detail as we had on the proposal. At that meeting there was overwhelming support for our position that the  present proposal should be rejected as it would be highly disadvantageous to the sport below Super League and indeed our governing body the RFL, who would have themselves a significant reduction in funding post 2021.

Our initial stance is that we believe the present Super 8’s should be maintained as the Middle 8’s in particular have been a competition that has created much interest and are a mechanism that ensures any Club from the Championship that does manage to be promoted can compete against those SL Clubs in the Middle 8’s and this season it appears even more competitive. Clearly no system designed to achieve a smooth and effective process of relegation/ promotion with full time  and part time Clubs is perfect  but we believe so far it has been successful and there has been no detailed analysis conducted to look at it in a proper dispassionate manner. However we have taken on board that SL Clubs have a different opinion and their views are important such that both sides need to consider the others position and seek a whole game solution that perhaps is not what we wish but what we can move forward with. It has been disappointing that from the Council meeting in December 2017 when issues of discontent were first raised we have only had 2 meetings between SL and Championship to try to resolve issues and we have found this very frustrating. However we are now where we are and we need to try to resolve issues for the good of our sport.

There are a number of peripheral issues in particular relating to governance and resource transfer from RFL to SL but the 2 main headline issues to resolve are:

1. Promotions/Relegation between SL and Championship
Under the present proposal there would be one Club automatically promoted and one Club relegated from SL which presumably would be the 12th Club in SL relegated and the winners of a playoff in Championship promoted. Of course at the moment there is a chance of up to 4 Clubs to be promoted/relegated albeit unlikely. We do not wish to accept this but as a compromise we would agree to give up the Super 8’s if the Championship League winners were automatically promoted at the expense of the 12th SL Club but in addition there be the chance of a second promotion spot with a playoff involving the 11th SL Club and teams finishing 2nd,3rd & 4th in Championship resulting in a Million Pound  game and hopefully maintain interest similar to the present system.
The SL Club would have a distinct advantage and could avoid relegation if it performed better than Championship Clubs but there would still be a chance similar to now.

2.Finances beyond 2021 when the present TV deal ends
At the moment in simple terms out of the Sky TV contract monies the Championship receive 12.5% of monies as do the RFL. The proposal is that if any new TV contract remains at the same amount we receive £1m less than now as do the RFL. If the monies increase we still receive £1m less so we do not benefit but if the monies decrease then whatever that reduction may be it is all deducted from our already reduced monies. We do not see that as fair and we also see it as a financial disaster for us. The same applies to RFL monies and so we cannot see how that can ensure the sport is  governed and the community game/ development work can possibly prosper. We appreciate that SL needs to prosper and be funded but so does the whole sport.

Our alternative proposal is that both ourselves and indeed the RFL continue to receive 12.5% of any TV contract monies to fund the game outside SL. Hence if monies increase then we receive some benefit, if monies stay the same then our monies remain the same and if monies fall then equally we have to take a proportionate cut in monies so that we all go forward together. If we all then wish to prosper we have to work hard to increase finance as a whole but not by taking it from another section of the game.
Those are the 2 main issues where SL have known for sometime where we stand despite not meeting us to properly discuss matters. We do not think we are being unreasonable, yes we are sure they have reasons to justify their stance but so do we and we have moved from our no change position to try to get a deal we can all live with but now we do need movement for the good of the game. I just hope the matter can be resolved this week.

As a Chairman of over 20 years who has so far not got involved in a public argument I just hope we can resolve the issues quickly.

Kevin Nicholas

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