Sheffield Eagles will be playing for high stakes when the new Kingstone Press Championship season kicks off at the weekend.
The league title winners are likely to pocket £500,000 with second taking £450,000 but after that the cash falls to £200,000 for third.
Mark Aston’s team, as Grand Final winners for the past two seasons, will be among the favourites for the championship but he has ruled out a “boom or bust” strategy.
“There are only two places to be had; you don’t want to finish third,” he said.
“A couple of clubs out there are spending and that’s a dangerous game.
“We’ve never done that and have kept out feet on the floor. We won’t change.”
There’s a high price for failure, with five of the 14 teams to be relegated. The nine survivors will join two teams dropping out of Super League and one promoted from Championship One in a 12-team league from 2015.
Aston said: “Clubs will be desperate and fighting to stay in the competition.”
Eagles open the new season with a return to Owlerton Stadium – where the club began in 1984 - against Rochdale Hornets on Sunday, kick-off 2pm.
The RFL hope the new system will bring incentive into the game with, for the first time in eight years, promotion to Super League open from 2015.
But Aston remains unconvinced, believing the teams coming out of Super League with expected “parachute payments” of £780,000 will be at a massive advantage over the Championship clubs running on much smaller budgets.