Dave Hadfield: Welcome return of relegation in a reduced Super League

The League's bottom four teams will compete with the top four in the Championship for the other four places in the following year's competition

The future of Europe's elite rugby league competition was finally decided last night, with Super League reduced to 12 clubs from the 2015 season, four of which could lose their places each season to teams from the semi-professional Championship.

The shake-up was agreed at a meeting of the current 14 clubs at St Helens' Langtree Park. With only three weeks to the first match of the new Super League season, there will be a general sense of relief that the game has at least decided on something after weeks of dithering and back-biting.

More controversial than the reduction to 12 teams, at a time when there are at least two clubs clearly not up to it, is the mechanism for moving up and down the new league structure.

Super League's top eight will, as now, go into a play-off series leading to a Grand Final. The bottom four will compete with the top four in the Championship for the other four places in the following year's Super League. The bottom four in the Championship will play off in the same way against the top four from the division below.

The system is essentially the one proposed by the Rugby Football League, to which a number of Super League clubs were strongly opposed. Although they have now come round to it, the faults in it still remain, notably the likelihood of confusing fans, the difficulty in selling season tickets when the full fixture list is not known and the danger of lop-sided scorelines when full-time meet part-time professionals. The great advantage is that virtually every club will have something tangible to play for until the last match of the season.

It recognises that a sealed competition under a licensing regime has not worked and that some form of promotion and relegation is needed. Most of all, there will be relief that the game appears to have settled its structural problems without a suicidal split.

The last formal attempt to sort out the future shape of the competition ended in farce last October, with six Super League clubs walking out before a vote could be taken. Those six, and possibly others besides, wanted any decision to be linked to Super League having more autonomy.

The debate since then has been one of the most bitter in Super League's 18-year history and has obscured, to a damaging extent, the success of the World Cup in Britain in the autumn – something that would in normal circumstances count as a major feather in the RFL's cap.

Some clubs have let it be known privately since then, however, that the tournament has not restored their confidence in the league's chief executive, Nigel Wood. They have, though, accepted what is essentially his blueprint. The changes will be ratified by an RFL meeting next week.

One Super League club was in expansive mood, with Salford set to take over Swinton following the decision of their neighbours' chairman, John Kidd, to stand down. Swinton are set to be as a feeder club for the recently rebranded Red Devils.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London