Rugby League: Super League delays decision on TV deal

THE GAME has put off the day when it has to decide whether to accept News Corporation's offer of a new television contract. Club representatives decided at their meeting in Salford yesterday that they needed more time to consider the pounds 54m offer, which would, in effect, cut the amount of money Super League clubs will receive over the next five years and cast the First and Second Divisions adrift after two years.

"News want a decision sooner rather than later," Neil Tunnicliffe, the Rugby League's chief executive, said. "But as debate progressed it became clear that people were not clear in their own minds about which direction we should take."

A decision is now expected at a special meeting on 15 July, at which the League will argue strongly that it should regain secondary TV rights for international matches and that the door to Super League should remain open for First Division clubs who meet the relevant criteria. "To take that right away from them would be a betrayal," Sir Rodney Walker, the League's chairman, said.

Two decisions that were made were to move to a Bosman-style transfer system, with no fees for players over 24, and to move disciplinary hearings involving Super League players from Thursday to Tuesday, so that coaches know earlier which players will be available at weekends.

London Broncos were last night contacting Bradford to make an offer for Shaun Edwards. Bradford are dispensing with Edwards, but the sticking point could be the fee, as they want to recoup the pounds 40,000 they paid for him. Salford have also expressed an interest.

Bradford's players have taken the unusual step of issuing a public apology to their supporters for their recent performances. The champions have lost their last three games and the statement promises to "do everything humanly possible to restore the faith and pride that all concerned with this great club deserve."

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