Broncos win support of clubs to secure Super League lifeline

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The Independent Online

The London Broncos live to fight another day after going to the brink of extinction at a crisis meeting of Super League clubs yesterday.

The London Broncos live to fight another day after going to the brink of extinction at a crisis meeting of Super League clubs yesterday.

The club, saddled with heavy debts and unable to reach an agreement with its creditors, was on the point of being voted out of the competition - either with immediate effect or by being condemned in advance to relegation at the season's end.

The mathematics were clearly against the Broncos, with clubs who might expect to be in relegation trouble in a season when two teams go down sensing a lifeline and Bradford in open conflict with them over a player both want to sign.

But after listening to the Broncos' own presentation and to arguments from the Rugby League's executive chairman, Richard Lewis, enough clubs swung their support for London to survive.

"We are very grateful to all the clubs," said the Broncos' chief executive, Nic Cartwright. "It is hard to vote against your own interests, but there are enough clubs in rugby league who support expansion and see the importance of a Super League team in London."

Clubs were told that the previous company running the Broncos had gone into liquidation with debts of around £3m. The new company, voted into Super League yesterday, will be starting life debt-free - bad news for its creditors, although the biggest of them is the chairman, David Hughes.

"We can't walk away saying how well we've done, because we haven't," said Cartwright.

One side-effect of the crisis has been that several potential investors have emerged, although Eric Watson, the multi-millionaire owner of the New Zealand Warriors, is not one of them.

The Broncos, the latest manifestation of a professional presence in London that stretches back a quarter of a century, were so close to extinction that other clubs were cancelling their travel arrangements for their fixtures. One rumour, strongly denied by the League, was that Castleford - relegated last season - had been invited to take over their fixtures.

Now it appears to be business as usual, starting with tomorrow's match against Bradford at Odsal, victory in which could conceivably take the Broncos to the top of the table.

Today's game sees the meeting of two sides well placed at this early stage of the season when Hull go to The Willows to face Salford.

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