The RFL’s independent board have approved a change of ownership at Newcastle Thunder – confirming the club’s participation in Betfred League One, the Betfred Challenge Cup and the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup in the 2024 season.

That means League 1 will have the hoped for nine teams next year, with Keighley facing Thunder twice in the third tier, in the North East on Sunday, April 21 and at Cougar Park on Sunday, August 4.

Newcastle’s previous owners advised that they would not be competing in 2024 following their relegation from the Betfred Championship, alongside Cougars, in September.

Following the submission of necessary details and documentation by the new ownership group – a budget, playing and operational details, and confirmation that Thunder will continue to use Kingston Park for their home fixtures – the RFL’s independent Board approved the change of ownership a few days ago.

Thunder have been drawn in Group 3 of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup, with home fixtures against York Knights on the weekend of January 27-28, and Wakefield Trinity on the weekend of February 10-11.

They will kick off the Betfred League One campaign at home to Hunslet on the weekend of March 16-17, and will enter the Betfred Challenge Cup at the third round stage – with the draw to be held after the second round in late January.