Super League clubs will meet at MediaCityUK in Manchester tomorrow to discuss the structure of the game for the 2019 season and beyond.
The current Super 8s format, which has come in for some heavy criticism, will remain in place next year but tomorrow’s meeting will discuss the possibility of expanding the top flight to 14 teams.
Licensing may return to strengthen the game financially and an extended Super League will open the door for the likes of Toronto Wolfpack and Toulouse who are making waves below the top division.
Departing Warrington coach Tony Smith has recently described the Qualifiers as a disaster but it also has its supporters, including Featherstone chairman Mark Campbell.
In a statement today, Campbell said: “We cannot afford to ditch this concept, nor can we afford to create a closed shop.
“Clubs must continue to reinvest in order to maintain their place in the sport’s top flight – for rugby league to remain what I believe is the best spectator sport in the world.
“The franchise system was supposed to help clubs produce their own players and grow themselves as businesses. This clearly hasn’t happened as there are a number of clubs that have simply stood still or gone backwards.
“If the process of promotion and relegation is ditched and a route to the top is taken away, once again, I fear for the future of the Championship.”
Having gained promotion to the top flight last season, Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont says he supports promotion and relegation but would like to see it used fairly.
Beaumont believes the Million Pound Game should be between top of the Championship and bottom of Super League, with the winners either winning or retaining top-flight status.
Despite finishing bottom of Super League after 23 rounds, Widnes Vikings survived the Million Pound Game after narrowly beating Catalans Dragons on Saturday to end the Qualifiers in third.
As a result, Leigh host Catalans in the Million Pound Game on Saturday with the losers relegated to the Championship.
“There has to be jeopardy in the game, but a team finishing 9th in the Super League potentially being relegated isn’t the best way,” said Beaumont.
“I want to see us survive but genuinely don’t want to see Catalans out of Super League either.”
MEDIA CITY..CITY OF SALFORD