Rugby League: Clubs agree on Premier League: Changes stop clubs breaking away

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FIRST and Second Division clubs have patched up their differences and reached a compromise that will introduce a so-called Premier League from next season and avert the danger of a breakaway, writes Dave Hadfield.

A series of compromise proposals were voted through a six-hour meeting in Leeds yesterday, although obvious changes will be difficult to


The new Premier League will begin with the same number of 16 clubs and the same system of two up, two down.

The minimum standards that Premier League members are supposed to meet will be phased in over four years, the same time scale that will see the phasing out of handouts to Second Division clubs.

The League says that the money saved will go into a reserve fund for development. Most of the pounds 25m that the League expects to get from the National Lottery will also be earmarked for developing the facilities at Premier League grounds.

The one point close to the heart of the bigger clubs that failed to win approval was a new voting system to give them two votes against one for Second Division sides.

A revised system of three votes for the Premier League, two for the Second Division and one for National Conference Clubs is, however, expected to win approval at the next meeting of the League.

A proposal from Batley and Ryedale-York for a play-off to decide one promotion place was turned down. Promotion and relegation will remain on the basis of two in each direction, but subject to clubs seeking promotion meeting Premier League criteria.

Those include the appointments of full-time personnel to improve the administration of clubs.