2009 Super League Licences

2009 Super League Licences

Super League Licences were announced in May 2005 by the Rugby Football League (RFL) as the new determinant of the Super League competition's participants from 2009 in place of promotion and relegation. The licences were awarded after consideration of more factors than just the on-the-field performance of a club in the previous season.cite web |url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/super_league/4556801.stm|publisher= BBC |title= Super League set for 2009 changes |author=BBC Sport |accessdate=2008-07-18] After 2007 automatic promotion and relegation was suspended for Super League with new teams admitted on a licence basis with the term of the licence to start in 2009.

The RFL stated that clubs applying to compete in Super League XIV in 2009 would be assessed by criteria in four areas (stadium facilities, finance and business performance, commercial and marketing and playing strength, including junior production and development) with the final evaluations and decisions being taken by the RFL Board of Directors.

Successful applicants would be licensed for three years of Super League competition.cite web |url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/super_league/4570643.stm|publisher= BBC |title= Franchise system 'is way forward' |author=BBC Sport |accessdate=2008-07-18] Three-yearly reviews of Super League membership will take place to ensure ambitious clubs lower down the leagues can still be successful.cite web |url= http://www.therfl.co.uk/about/page.php?areaid=193|publisher= The Rugby Football League|title= Licensing |author=RFL |accessdate=2008-07-18]


The RFL's Chief Executive Nigel Wood stated, "We hope to capture all of the advantages of a closed competition like the NRL without the disadvantages of having perennial under-performers that sometimes you get in a closed competition." cite web |url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/super_league/7138760.stm|publisher= BBC |title= The licence system explained |author=Paul Fletcher |accessdate=2008-07-18]

Club development

It is thought that the removal of the annual threat of relegation will prompt clubs to invest in developing their infrastructure, such as junior development and facilities, rather than spending on short-term fixes to avoid the drop. "The aim is that clubs direct some of their resources into medium-term development rather than the short-term panic of trying to hire a player, invariably from overseas, who will make the difference against relegation but leave without any long-term legacy," said the RFL's Wood.

The RFL have stated their belief that the benefits of licensing would grow the collective business strength of Super League (Europe) Limited.

International competition

The changes brought forth by licensing are intended to strengthen the competition and British rugby league.cite web |url= http://www.superleague.co.uk/page.php?id=375|publisher= Super League|title= Licensing |author=Super League |accessdate=2008-07-18] The strengthened competition, it is hoped, will lead to the development of more players able to compete successfully at international level. "The thinking is that if we have a more intense competition we will produce battle-hardened footballers," said Wood.

Application eligibility

Current Super League clubs have been required to submit applications justifying their continued membership of the competition.

Non-Super League clubs based in the United Kingdom must be participants in The Co-operative National League One during the 2008 season to apply.

Clubs based outside the UK and not competing in either Super League or National League One were able to apply, with applications to be judged by "the independent RFL board under the same process as UK based applications".

The deadline for the completed licence applications of clubs was the end of March 2008.

Licence criteria


Teams will get one point for having a stadium with a capacity of 12,000 or more. Another point will be awarded if the ground meets the standards of a premier competition in the 21st century.


A point will be awarded to clubs with an average attendance of around 10,000 spectators. Another point will be awarded if stadiums are operating at 40 per cent capacity.


Teams will receive a point if they are solvent. Another point will be awarded if their turnover is more than £4 million.

Player strength

Teams earn one point if they are considered to have made a contribution to the competition - that means averaging a place in the top eight over each of the last three seasons. Another point is available to clubs who make a contribution to home-grown player development. That means at least eight members of a first-team squad of 25 should be discovered, trained and developed in the team's home country (United Kingdom or France).

alary cap

One point is on offer to teams who have not committed a major breach of the salary cap in the last three seasons.

Geographical expansion

The final point goes to clubs who do not have another rugby league club within a 20-mile radius.

Total score

The scores attained by each club are translated into a Licence grading.
* 8 or more points - A licence
* 5-7 points - B licence
* 4 points or less - C licence

Sky Sports report that it is believed teams who achieve an A or B Licence will be awarded a place in Super League, while those who achieve a C Licence will undergo further scrutiny before the RFL decide who makes the final cut.

Expulsion from Super League

Clubs that are awarded a Super League Licence are not protected for the three years of the contract from removal from Super League due to the absence of relegation. The RFL Board will have powers enabling them to revoke a club's membership if necessary at any time, with the failed club being replaced by another from outside. The reasons, yet to be finalised and published, are "likely to include insolvency, contractual breach, persistent under performance and possibly persistent rule breaking".


Nineteen applications for Super League licences were received.cite web |url= http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,12196_3704790,00.html|publisher= Sky Sports |title= Crusaders keen on expansion |author=Sky Sports |accessdate=2008-07-18] Each of the 2008 season Super League clubs applied as well as several National League One sides and Toulouse Olympique of the French Elite One Championship.

In recent seasons and leading up the the submission deadline, several clubs submitted 'dummy' applications to the RFL - on which they received advice and feedback - in preparation for their official one. This 'dummy' application facility run by the RFL has been praised by clubs including Castleford and its Chief Executive, Richard Wright.cite web |url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/7243787.stm|publisher= BBC |title= The lure of the licence system |author=Paul Fletcher |accessdate=2008-07-18]

The applicants were: Bradford Bulls, Castleford Tigers, Catalans Dragons, Celtic Crusaders, Featherstone Rovers, Halifax RLFC, Harlequins, Hull FC, Hull KR, Huddersfield Giants, Leeds Rhinos, Leigh Centurions, Salford City Reds, St Helens, Toulouse, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Warrington Wolves, Widnes Vikings and Wigan Warriors.

Expansion to 14 clubs

The RFL have said that there is no upper limit on the number of clubs that may be accepted into the competition if more than fourteen strong applications are received as long as any additional entrants are "not detrimental to the overall quality of the competition and depth of playing talent".

In June 2008, the RFL confirmed that Super League would be expanded from 12 teams to 14 in 2009.cite web |url= http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2008/06/18/sorugl118.xml|publisher= Telegraph.co.uk |title= Super League to expand to 14 |author=Gary Slater |accessdate=2008-07-18] cite web |url= http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,12196_3703310,00.html|publisher= Sky Sports |title= Super League set to expand |author=Sky Sports |accessdate=2008-07-18] Richard Lewis, the RFL's Executive Chairman, said it was "as good a time as any for the sport to go to a 14-team Super League competition" with "television income, sponsorship income and crowd figures - so much going well" and the international game growing.


ky Sports

Boots 'N' All, the magazine programme broadcast on Sky Sports, the primary Super League broadcaster, sent a reporter to each of the nineteen applicants to evaluate them.cite web |url= http://www.skysports.com/tv_show/story/0,20144,12392_3145387_12387,00.html|publisher= Sky Sports |title= Licence to thrill |author=Angela Powers |accessdate=2008-07-18]

Code 13

Monthly British rugby league magazine Code 13 also evaluated all the licences, apart from Toulouse, in their April 2008 issue. [Code 13 - Up For Licence?, Issue 3, April 2008, Page 10. Retrieved on 2008-08-27.]

* Bradford Bulls - 8
* Castleford Tigers - 4
* Catalans Dragons - 8
* Celtic Crusaders - 3
* Halifax - 4
* Harlequins - 7
* Huddersfield Giants - 6
* Hull FC - 8
* Hull KR - 3
* Featherstone Rovers - 2
* Leeds Rhinos - 9
* Leigh Centurions - 3
* Salford City Reds - 4
* St Helens - 6
* Wakefield Trinity Wildcats - 3
* Warrington Wolves - 9
* Widnes Vikings - 5
* Wigan Warriors - 8

Rugby Football League Announcement

The RFL announced the 14 clubs to be licenced at 1000 BST on 22 July 2008.cite web |url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/super_league/7509659.stm|publisher= BBC |title= Clubs confident over franchises |author=BBC Sport |accessdate=2008-07-18]

The 14 successful clubs included all 12 existing Super League Clubs, despite some concern that some did not meet the relevant criteria. The clubs that successfully applied for a license are:-
*Bradford Bulls - Existing Super League team.
*Castleford Tigers - Existing Super League team.
*Catalans Dragons - Existing Super League team.
*Celtic Crusaders - Granted license. cite web |url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/7516692.stm|publisher= BBC |title= Crusaders & Salford win licences|author=BBC Sport |accessdate=2008-07-23]
*Harlequins RL - Existing Super League team.
*Huddersfield Giants - Existing Super League team.
*Hull F.C. - Existing Super League team.
*Hull Kingston Rovers - Existing Super League team.
*Leeds Rhinos - Existing Super League team.
*St Helens - Existing Super League team.
*Salford City Reds - Granted License.
*Wakefield Trinity Wildcats - Existing Super League team.
*Warrington Wolves - Existing Super League team.
*Wigan Warriors - Existing Super League team.

The RFL announced the grading of each of the 14 clubs on 23 July 2008.cite web |url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_league/super_league/7519770.stm|publisher= BBC |title= Three clubs given A grade licences|author=BBC Sport |accessdate=2008-07-23]

Response to announcement

Club representatives

Media response

The future: 2012 Licences

RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood has sought to allay fears that Super League could become a 'closed shop' in the absence of relegation. Despite the length of the licences being three years, that does not mean that clubs with a licence are assured of remaining in Super League for the full three years of their agreement. "This is not a closed shop", "there must always be a way of getting in and a way of removing under-performing clubs" said Wood.

Mr Wood also said that following the three years, there could be further changes. "The best performing National League club will be guaranteed admission to Super League, either at the expense of the worst performing club or by expanding the competition," he said.


External links

* [http://www.superleague.co.uk/ superleague.co.uk]
* [http://www.therfl.co.uk/SL/ TheRFL.co.uk - Super League coverage]

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