The Super League Board has rejected Toronto Wolfpack’s application to return to the competition in 2021.
The Board considered a number of factors following Wolfpack’s inability to complete the 2020 Betfred Super League season and after the club’s owner, David Argyle, stepped down from the organisation ahead of the season restart in August.
Following a review in September of the club’s unsatisfactory first bid for re-inclusion, Super League granted a four-week extension, partly at the request of the club’s prospective new owner, Carlo LiVolsi, to improve its submission.
In that period, Super League also commissioned its own independent research into the commercial opportunities available to rugby league in Canada at this current time or in the foreseeable future.
That committee – which looked at the Canadian broadcast and sponsorship markets – and included two independent experts plus Robert Elstone from Super League Europe and Simon Johnson, Chair of the RFL, concluded unanimously that operating a team in Canada would not produce material incremental revenue in the short or medium term.
Executive Chairman Robert Elstone said:
“The Board accepts that the decision to reject Toronto Wolfpack’s application will divide the game’s fans – but on the evidence presented to us, it would not be right for the development of the competition for Super League to accommodate a team in Canada in 2021.
“Every opportunity has been given to Toronto Wolfpack to provide the assurances our clubs need.
“However, our review of the club’s recent submission identified a number of areas of concern, particularly regarding the aggressive revenue targets on which the financial forecasts are based.
“As part of our comprehensive investigation into this whole subject , Super League appointed an independent committee of sports industry experts, with representation from The RFL, to examine commercial opportunities for rugby league in Canada.
“Its findings were unanimous – that operating a team in a fiercely competitive North American sports market was non-strategic and added no material incremental revenue to Super League in the short or medium term.
“Separately, it was also apparent that no assessment of the scale and accessibility of the commercial growth that might accrue to the sport from entering the Canadian market was ever completed prior to the club’s first entry into the sport.”
The Super League Board will now look at the season structure for 2021, specifically into whether the 2021 competition is comprised of 11 or 12 teams. That meeting will be held tomorrow (Tuesday).