There have only ever been two periods of licensing in Super League – from 2009 to 2011 and from 2011 to 2014.
However, in that six-year period, the system attracted a great deal of criticism, not least because it erased promotion and relegation.
Yet, recently there have been more calls to bring back some kind of licensing. Here are five clubs who would be in danger of relegation if it returned.
Let’s start alphabetically because it’s the easiest place to start. Castleford have been promising a new stadium for the good part of two decades – albeit on two different sites. With little upgrading done around the Jungle in that time too, the ‘old girl’ is looking increasingly dilapidated as safety concerns continue to be raised. Though the product on the field is doing a brilliant job of counterbalancing the off-field issues, it would perhaps only be a matter of time before Super League or the RFL came down on the club like a tonne of bricks if nothing was done to enhance the facilities at their current home.
Perhaps the least likely of this five to be near relegation, Huddersfield have been on a downward spiral throughout the late 2010s and into the 2020s. They may have the stadium – even though it isn’t actually theirs – but they don’t have the fanbase nor have they had the success on the field for a good few years. Granted, the Giants do a great job in the community and have brought through some brilliant stars, but would that be good enough?
Leigh seem to be the most obvious choice considering they have just been promoted, but unlike Castleford, they do have the facilities and stadium that could make the RFL and Super League think twice. That being said, their on-field success has been incredibly sparse so far in 2021 and, with very few academy players making it through to the first-team, the Centurions cannot back up their off-field progress where it matters most – on it.
Salford Red Devils
Often the butt of peoples’ jokes regarding the fanbase, Salford have never really improved in that regard and crowds have in fact receded since their move from the Willows. Unfortunately, off the field, the Red Devils have struggled in recent years following the departure of Dr Marwan Koukash whilst the on-field product seems to have regressed since Ian Watson left too. That combination does not bode well.
Like Castleford, Wakefield have been treading water in the past few decades with regards to a new stadium. Although planned developments have been put in place to improve the Mobile Rocket Stadium, those still have not yet been forthcoming. Trinity have also performed poorly on the field in recent seasons and continue to spend the least money of all Super League clubs. Wakefield also continue to be overshadowed by their small town rivals Castleford.