The RFL’s Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer has heralded a bold “new landscape” for Rugby League following the conclusion of the strategic review into the Co-operative Championships that will see a new structure for the semi-professional game in 2013.
The comprehensive review of the competitions below Super League included extensive consultation with clubs, sponsors, coaches, players and supporters and has led to clear principles being agreed to strengthen the Championships alongside a blueprint for geographical expansion.
Rimmer said: “The Championships review has proved a very successful and constructive exercise and I’m pleased with how positive the talks have been with the clubs.
“One of the main motivations behind conducting the review was the need for sustainability at this level and it is vital that the changes made strengthen both the competitions and existing clubs.
“The Championship will be expanded to 14 teams in 2013, meaning that there will be no relegation from the competition in 2012, and four teams will be promoted from Championship One.
“These will be the Championship One champions, the play-off final winning team, the play-off final runners up and the next highest placed club in Championship One.
“Promotion and relegation between the two competitions will return at the end of 2013 and we will also revisit the possibility of promotion and relegation between the Championships and tier 3.
“Four new clubs will enter Championship One in 2013 and these will be announced in the next few months once the due diligence checks are completed, thus giving them an appropriate amount of time to prepare for life in Championship One in 2013. We have the opportunity to change the Rugby League landscape, this is of huge importance to the game and we’re looking at unearthing new players, new spectators and new viewers.
“However, it’s not about taking community teams and throwing them in, it’s smarter than that. The four new clubs in Championship One will, along with the other teams in the Championships, benefit from an increased level of central support and guidance.”