Today some top Championship clubs voted against IMG’s proposals.
These included Championship leaders Featherstone Rovers and the outspoken Keighley Cougars.
But did not include Halifax Panthers who are one of the biggest clubs in the second tier.
They explained to their fans their decision to vote in favour of the changes despite the fact it could work against them, a team who has routinely finished near the top of the Championship and pushed for a spot in the Grand Final, as it means that the Grand Final is no longer the be all and end all of promotion.
They released the following statement:
“As you may be aware, we have been working behind the scenes on the proposed IMG changes for the future of the game and our Club for several weeks now. Many meetings and conversations have taken place between ourselves and the RFL and IMG to clarify, challenge and understand the pros and cons of the proposed changes.”
“Further to the RFL/IMG meeting held at Huddersfield Giants today, the Board wish to update you on the outcome. Today’s vote for revamping the promotion and relegation process from Championship/ Super League was overwhelmingly passed – including our vote to support these changes.”
“The Board feel we are already embracing the change that is needed within the sport, and were happy to support. We all feel that the game is in need of change in order not just to survive but flourish, going forward.”
“We appreciate this will not be everybody’s stance, however we feel on balance, this is the correct decision for the benefit of the Club. Indeed, everybody is entitled to their opinion and we as a Board totally respect that. Ultimately, the game has to change to stop the current decline and attract new audiences and revenue to survive and grow. With the new criteria, there is an opportunity for us all to have a part to play in building the Club both on and off the field.”
The last time a similar system was used Halifax missed out on a Super League licence to Widnes Vikings who have also backed these changes.
Head of Operations Chris Hamilton said: “Today was an important vote for the future direction of the game and, after spending time looking at what was proposed, taking time to consider the implications for both our club and the wider game, including meeting with Tony Sutton, the Chief Executive of the RFL and our colleagues from Halton Borough Council the Board took the decision that these proposals are the best way forward, for both.
“Of course change, and these proposals are fundamentally different to what clubs and fans have been used to, can always be viewed negatively, but it has been made clear by broadcasters to those running the game, and in turn those running clubs, that change must happen if we are to try and get higher value broadcast deals moving forward which is vital to all clubs.
“As a club we understand why there are some people against it but at Widnes we are looking to very much run with the new system, protect and sustain those areas where we are strong and really work as hard as we can to improve areas that we need to.
“It will be a challenge, of course, but one we look forward to meeting head on.
“We will be outlining some of the IMG proposals at next weeks Members Monday meeting but, at a date in the not too distant future, look forward to holding a fans forum for all Vikings supporters where we can explain in more detail all of the different elements to the new system and underline just how big a part in this new structure that our fans, sponsors and staff can play in helping move the club forward.”