Rugby League: Super League likely to stay all-British

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DOUBTS over Paris's return in 1999 suggest Super League Europe will stay British, Maurice Lindsay, the league's managing director, said yesterday.

The French club was put in cold storage for 12 months last November after experiencing financial difficulties and struggling to avoid relegation in the first two seasons of Super League.

The intention was for Paris to be reformed, largely with French players, in time for next season, but Lindsay thinks that is unlikely to happen in time for 1999.

"I received a letter from Paris today seeking our help but they have to help themselves as well," Lindsay said. "We cannot just have Australians playing under a French name, they have to be generic. It would be pointless putting them back into the situation that existed in 1997."

The League still plans to expand but Lindsay, who is considering six applications, is to suggest a drip-feed system of one new club per year.

"The last thing we want to do is put several clubs into Super League just because it looks good. They have to be competitive," he said. "It might be that one team will be enough for 1999 and a second in 2000 would bring us up to the 14."

South Wales (in Cardiff or Swansea), Gateshead and Watford are thought to be among the applicants for new franchises.

Lindsay was delighted with attendances over the first weekend of the new season. Promoted Huddersfield drew 12,417, their biggest crowd in 36 years, for the opening game against Bradford on Friday, while Wigan's game with Castleford at Central Park attracted 10,920. Salford and Sheffield also reported larger than average gates on Sunday.