Keighley Cougars, the prospective Second Division champions who have been excluded from the game's new Super League, are to sue the Rugby League.
A delegation from the club waited for four hours before gaining access to state their case to a meeting of chairmen of proposed Super League clubs at Manchester Airport. Minutes later, they were out again, disappointed and angry at their continued exclusion from the lite competition that, under a £75m deal with Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd, is due to start next March.
"It is absolutely ridiculous," said the Keighley chairman, Mike O'Neill. "We are going to sue, and sue all the way."
O'Neill said that it was impossible for the club, after all it has invested in trying to improve itself, to settle for a place in the British First Division that is intended to run below the Super League. "This means the end of Keighley unless we can get it all sorted out," O'Neill said.
The airport meeting, which was intended to prepare the Super League for take-off after a series of rows since the deal was agreed on Saturday, decided, despite rumours of an expansion to 16, to keep the number of teams at 14. French officials are due to arrive today for talks about the proposed presence of two clubs from their country, which was part of the original plan.
If France can only promise one side - rather than the proposed two, from Paris and Toulouse - Widnes will be allowed entry in their own right, rather than being expected to merge with Warrington.
The final line-up will be announced by 4 May, which leaves little time for any of the problematic mergers that plague the project to be resolved. If clubs cannot agree a merger, the League will rule which of them will be in the Super League, with only one team allowed from each area. Bass, the brewers who sponsor the current championship, have pledged their support to the Super League.
In Australia, however, Murdoch's opponents, the Australian Rugby League, have been able to claim two victories. The leagues in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Western Samoa, Tonga, South Africa and the Cook Islands have all indicated that they will stick with the ARL, which supports them financially. Their stand has implications for this October's Centenary World Cup, in which all are involved.
Kerry Boustead, the former Test winger and chief executive of the North Queensland Cowboys, has resigned rather than be part of the club's expected defection to the Super League.
n Chorley Borough are issuing a writ against the League for allegedly breaking an agreement by not inviting them to rejoin as members of the new First Division.Reuse content