Newcastle Thunder have been confirmed as the 14th Championship club for the 2021 season.
The vacancy in the league was made as a result of Toronto’s expulsion from Super League, which will see one Championship club promoted to Super League next year, with that announcement due on Monday.
Thunder came just short of promotion from League 1 in 2019, losing to Oldham in the play-off final, but will now join them in the Championship after being chosen ahead the other four applicants – Barrow Raiders, Doncaster, Rochdale Hornets and Workington Town.
Five key criteria were considered by the five-strong panel when deciding between the applicants, including competitiveness on the field, sustainability for 2021 and beyond, and enhancing the commercial value of the competition.
On the decision, Air Commodore Dean Andrew OBE, the former RFL President who chaired the panel, said: “Newcastle Thunder was the unanimous choice of the panel, for an outstanding application. The club’s coaching set-up and facilities are superb; its community outreach is well-established and growing.
— Newcastle Thunder (@ThunderRugby) December 10, 2020
“Newcastle and the North-East has considerable future growth potential, backed by its owner – as has already been recognised by the decision to play the Super League Magic Weekend at St James’ Park for a fifth time in 2021, and also by Rugby League World Cup 2021 with five fixtures to be played in the region including the tournament opener in Newcastle.
“The club has a clearly-stated aspiration of Super League success this decade. Overall the panel thought its application most closely matched the vision of the RFL’s Strategy Reset.
“On behalf of the panel, I thank and congratulate all five clubs who submitted applications. The applications were comprehensive, thorough, they showed aspiration and ambition, and they were very honest.
“I hope the four clubs who have missed out will see this as an opportunity to press for promotion in 2021. Good luck to them, and also to Newcastle Thunder in their preparations to play in what promises to be a vibrant and high-quality Betfred Championship competition.”