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What a 14 team Super League would look like in 2025

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In a recent RFL media briefing, Chief Executive, Tony Sutton re-affirmed the governing body’s commitment to a 12-team Super League. However, in the aftermath of London Broncos‘ victory over Hull FC, the debate around the composition of Super League and London’s potential relegation has re-opened.

Speaking after the Broncos’ famous win, head coach, Mike Eccles, spoke candidly on the potential of London being relegated at the end of this season.

Eccles appeared on Sky Sports‘ The Verdict programme, where he stated that the Broncos would be putting together a proposal to present to the governing body. Eccles hopes this may allow London to remain in Super League.

“We’re getting on with it, the club is putting together a proposal of where we think we should go and hopefully give us a bit of an opportunity to stay in the competition,” Eccles stated.

One option which would allow London to remain in Super League would be to increase the size of the competition to 14. We take a look below at what that competition would look like.

Which teams would be in a 2025 14-team Super League?

London Broncos

Credit: Imago Images

When Tony Sutton spoke on the subject recently, he stated what would be required in order to expand Super League, from a grading perspective.

“The position from IMG previously which we’re consistent with is there is a future aspiration to potentially grow the Super League as and when conditions allow or permit.

“Or as and when there are more than 12 A-grade clubs.”

Based on the commitment to the IMG criteria, the division would be made up of the 13 highest-rated clubs, plus London. The grades will be re-published later this year, however, using 2021 data, the following sides would be included in Super League:

1. Leeds Rhinos – A

2. Wigan Warriors – A

3. St Helens – A

4. Catalans Dragons – A

5. Warrington Wolves – A

6. Hull KR – A

7. Hull FC – A

8. Salford Red Devils – B

9. Huddersfield Giants – B

10. Toulouse Olympique – B

11. Wakefield Trinity – B

12. Leigh Leopards – B

13. Castleford Tigers – B

14. London Broncos – B

London are currently ranked 24th, however, their proposal will most likely challenge that grading. Eccles openly questioned the catchment area score, for example, highlighting that it was unrealistically low. They would be joined in the league by Toulouse Olympique and Wakefield Trinity.

There is a risk, however, that by including London, teams such as Bradford Bulls, Featherstone Rovers and Widnes Vikings may challenge the decision. Under the 2021 data, they all have a higher score than London.

What would the fixture list look like?

Huddersfield Giants

Credit: Imago Images

Head coaches across the land can rejoice, as the universally unpopular loop fixtures would most likely come to an end. Under the current system, each team plays 27 fixtures in the regular season. This includes 11 regular home games, 11 regular away games and the Magic Weekend fixture.

The other four games are loop fixtures, where sides play each other for a third time, either home or away. These fixtures, introduced in 2019, are determined by final league position. All even-placed sides play each other for a third time, as do the sides who finished in an odd position (i.e. first, third, fifth etc…).

However, this structure has been widely criticised, most recently by Huddersfield coach, Ian Watson. According to Watson, it can lead to a distorted perception of the table, with sides playing certain rivals several sides before they have played each opponent in the league.

Thankfully, with a return to a 14-team Super League, there would be no need for the loop fixtures. Each team would play the other 13 sides twice, with one extra fixture at Magic Weekend making the 27 regular season fixtures.

How would the Super League play-offs work?

Super League

Credit: Imago Images

The end-of-season play-offs in Super League have taken on many forms over the years. From a straight knockout consisting of the top four, to the controversial club call system, via the short-lived Super Eights, it has taken some time to land on a system that works.

Between 2009 and 2015, Super League was a 14-team competition, under the licensing system. In this period, the end-of-season play-offs featured the top eight sides.

However, the format was criticised as being too complicated, and also for disincentivising league performance.  This criticism grew after Leeds Rhinos won the Grand Final twice after finishing fifth in the regular season table. The top eight play-offs were replaced by the Super Eights in 2015.

The current play-off system sees the top six sides qualify for the play-offs. An elimination play-off featuring the sides who finish between third and sixth takes place, with the winners of those games playing away to the sides who finished first and second in the semi-finals. The winner of those games meet in the Grand Final at Old Trafford.

It is likely that this system would remain in a 14-team Super League. It seems to strike the right balance between simplicity and competitiveness, without detracting from the quality of the regular season games.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ruth Catton

    May 22, 2024 at 4:06 am

    I disagree with there not being relegation and promotion for Championship clubs. The last seasons play off were really exciting and there would be nothing to play for. Everything seems to be geared to Super League. However it is Championship players they come to poach every season. They may be top of the pyramid but it is the clubs below them that keep them there.

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