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Keighley Cougars chief dismayed at opposition to change
Cougars chief Gary Fawcett has joined a significant band of Championship chairmen in voicing disapproval towards a revolt against the Rugby Football League led by Ian Lenagan.
Wigan supremo Lenagan has been subjected to strong criticism from second-tier clubs since the RFL postponed their extraordinary general meeting of the Rugby League Council last Wednesday, following a meeting of Super League clubs called by Lenagan two days earlier.
The postponement means the RFL’s plans to reorganise the structure of the professional competitions by 2015 have been thrown into confusion and it seems likely that any EGM will not take place until after the World Cup.
The crux of Lenagan’s argument was that Super League clubs should have more power to run their own competition – but Halifax chairman Michael Steele has slammed his Wigan counterpart for the lateness of the move.
Fawcett admits he was disappointed that plans to press ahead with a return to promotion and relegation – and a reduction in Super League from 14 to 12 clubs – from 2015 will be put on hold, for the time being at least.
“At least half the Super League clubs have put a spanner in the works when we actually thought it was progressing along the way of eliminating the franchise system at the end of 2014 and replacing that with promotion and relegation,” he said.
“What the RFL are trying to do is to create a feeling in the game of every minute matters. Where we are at the moment, every moment on the pitch does not matter because you can be bottom of Super League yet safe from relegation.
“My own viewpoint is that it’s nonsensical. The urge to be competitive is less than the fans deserve.
“I used the word jeopardy a lot when I was speaking to the RFL about it because that’s what gets fans coming.
“I’m disappointed that some Super League clubs have actually said they are not happy with this.
“They are in the process of trying to protect themselves as opposed to the game. They’re looking to either gain concessions or look for protection against the change.
“People generally don’t like change because if they’re getting a decent distribution each year, they want to protect and defend that situation.
“But I think that’s bad for rugby league and people need to think wider than their own club and actually think about the benefits to the game.
“Having a promotion and demotion structure would be beneficial for the game.”
Fawcett, meanwhile, is keen to see the Cougars finish in the top half of the Championship next season, which would leave them well placed to begin 2015 in what would effectively be a Super League II under the new proposals.
“Our plan is get into Super League, or whatever the top flight is, by 2018,” he declared.
“We have an evolutionary plan to get there and part of that plan is to be in Super League II, if that’s what it’s going to be called.
“We’ve done something which the club haven’t done for about 16 years – which was stay in the second tier for two seasons on the trot.
“That was part of the plan and the next stage for us now is to target the top seven because every club is going to want to avoid being in that play-off sequence at the end of 2014.
“So we are targeting top seven next season and, to be sure of achieving that, we need to amass between 42 and 45 points.
“That’s part of our evolutionary path – to be in the top seven in 2014 and then, in 2015, to actually be part of that Super League II structure.”
Fawcett added that the search for players was ongoing and player-coach Paul March could conceivably pick up a player or two during his forthcoming holiday to Australia.
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