Rugby League: Doubts over new league plan

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The Independent Online
THE PROSPECT of a Conference League, made up of professional and amateur clubs, as a feeder competition for the Rugby League has drawn a sceptical response in some quarters, writes Dave Hadfield.

Member clubs yesterday approved pounds 250,000 to fund the new league, which could in theory start next season. The proposal envisages clubs from outside the game's traditional areas joining the competition, which would begin with one division of 12, eventually expanding to three.

The League's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay, said: 'This is a bold scheme, designed to provide a vibrant competition for the leading amateur sides, while providing a development system for new clubs with ambition.'

However Peter Moran, the president of the British Amateur Rugby League Association, sounded a note of caution. 'If they want to make it a pro-am competition at present that would present grave hazards,' he said. 'Our clubs would not tolerate it.'

Allan Sherratt, the chairman of Blackpool Gladiators, one of the three clubs likely to be excluded from the Rugby League at the end of this season, said: 'I approach it with scepticism and trepidation. Unless it would be part of the Stones Bitter Championship and we would be full members of the League with full funding, we wouldn't be interested.'

Widnes's Emosi Koloto looks sure to miss the Challenge Cup final on 1 May and may need an operation on a disc in his neck.

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