Super League clubs form Euro-bond

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The Independent Online
They all studiously avoided the B-word - except to deny that this was a breakaway - but the game's leading clubs yesterday followed the example of football's Premiership by taking their destiny into their own hands.

The launch of Rugby League (Europe) Ltd marked the 12 Super League clubs taking a greater measure of control over their activities and aspirations than they could during the first season of summer rugby.

"We feel we have had a great season in many respects. There is no reason to be negative about it, but this is all about taking things further from here," said the new company's chairman, Chris Caisley, of the Bradford Bulls.

RLE is setting out to generate its own income, to raise the profile and ultimately expand Super League. "We want to expand, but the keynote is quality," Caisley said. "We want the game to be so attractive that people will want to buy into it."

The 12 Super League clubs will each be shareholders, but the Rugby League will hold a "golden" share, with which it can veto changes - such as over promotion and relegation - that have implications for the whole game.

The move has come because Super League clubs feel that they need to run their own affairs, with their own staff and headquarters, and in that they have the public support of the Rugby League's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay. "I am not afraid of any initiative that takes rugby league into the next century on a firm footing," Lindsay said.

"Equally, I am certain that the ambitions of Rugby League (Europe) are the ambitions of the game as a whole and that we will move forward as a family."

Just as in other families, however, the more ambitious members are asserting their need for greater independence.

Steve Hampson, the Salford full-back placed on report for an apparent trip in the Divisional Premiership final against Keighley, has been banned for the first two matches of next season.

The Auckland Warriors second-rower, Stuart Lester, is joining Wigan on a three-year contract, while Lee Crooks is in line to return to his original club, Hull, from Castleford.