Brian McDermott hasn’t held back in airing his thoughts on Super League’s decision to reject Toronto’s re-entry into the competition next season.
The Canadian club withdrew from this season’s Super League in July due to overwhelming financial problems following the exit of former owner David Argyle.
This has seen the club’s players and staff go six months without pay and Super League play the remainder of the 2020 campaign with a lop-sided 11-team competition.
To be readmitted into the competition next season, Toronto’s new owner Carlo LiVolsi had to convince Super League Board members the club was sustainable going forward.
He was unable to do so though as they lost the vote 8-4, leaving players and staff unemployed and the club’s future in serious doubt after only five years in existence.
Former Leeds boss McDermott took over as the Wolfpack’s head coach at the start of 2019 and led the club to Super League just over 12 months ago.
He appeared on Sky Sports this Friday to explain how the situation has played out from his and the players point of view, while declaring the game has made a huge mistake.
“Our players and myself have been unemployed for six months and I haven’t had one phone call from Super League,” said McDermott.
“None of my players have had a call from Super League. Do you know in six months the players have had payments of £1,000 each.
“Making a Zoom call on Monday evening to all players and staff saying ‘that’s it, we’re done, we’re all unemployed’ wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done.
“Made harder really by the fact I obviously don’t agree with the decision. I can’t see any sense in the decision. I can’t see any rationale in the decision.”
McDermott also addressed those criticising former owner David Argyle with many feeling he left the club in the lurch after spending millions to get them to Super League.
“Was he (David Argyle) doing it in the best way? No. There has been some turbulence with how he would fund the club.
“That’s what happens when you don’t get TV distribution, you have to pay for everyone else’s travel and accommodation.
“With that said, they were the rules he took the club on and he wasn’t great. But when he stepped down I was shocked and still shocked because of people’s treatment and attitude towards the club.”
Toronto’s success certainly wasn’t just on the pitch, their two promotions in three seasons perhaps wasn’t as eye-catching as the 9,000+ crowds they were attracting at home games.
With the potential of this reaching five figures in Super League, the Wolfpack were an exciting expansion project and McDermott believes the sport has missed out on a huge opportunity.
“I don’t think the majority of rugby league wants this,” he added. “The minority of rugby league could be justified in their opposition because of the way the club has conducted itself.
“But have we conducted ourselves to such a poor degree where you would eject us out of it? This has been the most successful expansion club the game has ever seen.
“I’d listen to your argument if we had 1500 crowds. I’d listen to your argument if we struggled in the leagues we’d been playing in.
“We gained promotion, we weren’t gifted anything. When you come in it is going to be a hugely imbalanced competition because you’re not going to get the same as everyone else.
“How do you expect that to happen and for the club to progress? This decision has the potential to turn people off the game.”