The Super 8s will give the likes of Sheffield Eagles a chance to progress as a club both on and off the field, according to Director of Rugby Mark Aston.
The Eagles are heading into the second round of their Super 8 campaign this weekend looking for an improved performance against Super League’s Widnes Vikings.
The Super 8 format is in its inaugural campaign and hasn’t been universally welcomed, but Aston believes that while there are faults, the return of potential promotion and relegation will be of great benefit to the game.
“Now there is a slim hope of promotion and an opportunity for teams in the top four to play against Super League opposition,” said Aston.
“We have something to sell now which is important for lots of reasons.
“I think it gives clubs a chance. When we won the Grand Final back-to-back a few years ago, we got nothing out of it and I think the fans got pretty disillusioned with that. When you are selling the game and trying to attract sponsors you are telling them you have won the league and there’s nothing at the end of it then it is hard sell.”
Whilst there is now something to play for on the field at the end of the regular campaign, Aston is also encouraged by the financial benefits of the Super 8 campaign.
“At the top end of the Championship Leigh and Bradford are full-time, then there is a bit of a gap,” Aston adds.
“Playing these games earns the clubs more money, and has given us the chance to go full-time next year which we are delighted about. We then need to establish ourselves as a top four team which will guarantee more income to help us develop as a club. To bridge the gap between Super League and The Championship you need to bring the pay structure closer, there is a big gulf still but going full-time and trying to be more consistent gives us a chance to bring more revenue in.”
* Eagles have confirmed that players will deliver season tickets to the fans’ front door from next week to give supporters an early morning surprise.