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Expansion club submit application to join RFL League One

League One Expansion

After the RFL put out the call that they would be considering applications to join Betfred League One from the 2025 season onwards, Bedford Tigers have become the first southern team to express their interest publicly.

It was reported earlier that Goole Vikings had put their name in the hat but Bedford’s confirmed interest is the first from what would be considered an ‘expansion’ team in that they are truly outside the rugby league heartlands.

Goole meanwhile, is in the East Riding of Yorkshire and jammed between historic rugby league cities or towns such as Hull and Featherstone. As for Bedford, their closest rival would be the likes of fellow expansion teams such as London Broncos.

That’s not prevented the club from expressing their interest in joining League One from 2025, something that the club have confirmed via their social media channels and website. They would become the 36th professional team and help round League One up from nine to ten teams after the sad and recent demise of London Skolars and West Wales Raiders.

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Expansion team expresses interest in joining League One

After the announcement that there will be a “managed restructure of the competition structure” below Super League, the RFL stated that they would be accepting declarations of interest to join League One.

Per Yorkshire Live, eight clubs have taken the governing body up on that so far but Goole and now Bedford have become the first to publicly declared interest.

Posting on their Facebook page, the Tigers stated: “Following the recent announcement from the Rugby Football League (RFL) that they are accepting applications for a 36th club to join the sport’s professional ranks, the Tigers are excited to announce that we have lodged an official expression of interest!”

They would also go on to release a full statement via their website that can be read in full here.

The major highlights from that statement include acknowledgement of the huge undertaking of becoming the 12th “franchise” club, however, the club highlighted their commitment to growing the game for everyone.

Nodding to the history of expansion teams failing, Bedford provided an example of why they would hopefully be different: “There is a history of so-called Expansion Teams failing in recent years and we will need to be diligent to the task, ensuring that we are confident that we can be sustainable both on and off the field.

“The club now has 20 years of established history in the area proudly delivering rugby league to all ages, genders and abilities.

“We have worked tirelessly since Covid to ensure that we are well placed for this with the club boasting Women’s and Wheelchair sides in their respective Championship competitions as well.

“We formed a Charitable Foundation in 2023 which is establishing itself and delivering small projects as it builds. These are all key components for our bid.”

They also confirmed that their IMG score is just 3.5, however, that’s only 1.57 points behind North Wales Crusaders and it is “without factoring in points for attendance, league placement and accounts”, none of which the club have been able to do so far.

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