What RFL statement on West Wales Raiders means for the rest of League One and beyond?

Reactions to the news that West Wales Raiders are to cease to compete in the upcoming 2023 League One campaign are flooding in with fellow League One teams sharing the RFL statement and also commenting themselves.

It’s unclear what will happen to the Raiders but various rival sides have offered well wishes with Cumbrian side Workington Town the most recent to react.

In a statement on their twitter they posted: “The news of the withdrawal is obviously sad to hear. Our thoughts are with the boards, players and fans of the West Wales club. The Town board will now digest any implications and discuss over the Christmas break. We will then communicate with our fans in the New Year.”

Workington are clearly therefore somewhat in the dark about what this means long-term but the short team implications have been set out in the RFL statement.

It’s announced and confirmed that League One will become a 10-team division and therefore fixtures will drop from 20 to 18 meaning fans will see two less games and clubs will obviously lose a home games worth of revenue.

Further complications were that the league was in an awkward position having an odd number of teams and therefore despite the 20 fixtures the league had worked out a 22 round schedule that had provisions for bye weeks.

The RFL have confirmed that this will remain the case and is clearly stated within the statement.

“The introduction of loop fixtures to avoid blank weekends was considered, however with a full 22-round fixture list already announced it was felt that it would be too disruptive to redraw the fixture list.

“Additionally, with the top team in the table securing automatic promotion it was felt that the introduction of loop fixtures might benefit some clubs whilst compromising the promotion prospects of others.”

Teams will now receive four bye rounds which will potentially give them a chance to rest and recover during the long season, which could benefit them during the promotion push near the end of the season.

Outside of the league this also gives an opportunity to two other teams to join the Challenge Cup first round draw which is set to take place in January.

Two teams from the Impact Performance National Conference League will now gain entry into the round one draw which is obviously huge news for them, but news that they wish would have come in better circumstances.

The teams in question are Barrow Island and Crosfields who will find themselves in the hat for the draw which will take place at Wembley to celebrate the return of the final to the national stadium.

The RFL statement also addresses the state of rugby league in Wales given that only one side in the top three domestic leagues hails from Wales, with Crusaders also playing in League One.

Wales recently performed well at the World Cup and the lack of a professional team in the region of West Wales could be detrimental to the development and so the RFL have specifically outlined that, and will address it as seen in the following part of the statement.

“The RFL plans to hold discussions with Wales Rugby League early in the New Year regarding a more sustainable and effective approach to the promotion and development of the sport in South Wales.”

For now that’s all that is known about the situation, West Wales are yet to make a statement but it’s a sad day for rugby league, particularly after it was celebrated so brilliantly last night at Sports Personality of the Year.

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