Robert Elstone slammed for stating promotion view before Championship meeting

SUPER League boss Robert Elstone has been slammed for saying he feels promotion and relegation should be canned, as clubs meet to discuss the prospect.

The top flight’s executive chairman feels it would not be right to send one club down and one up from the Championship with both competitions ‘compromised.’

But Rochdale’s Andy Mazey believes that although he can see where Elstone was coming from, there was a time and a place to say it – and that was neither.

He said: “I can’t really disagree with what he says but I don’t believe the timing of the comments are great when talks are ongoing between the governing body and that game’s stakeholders and especially before those most affected have been suitably consulted and the RFL has ratified things.

“And I do sympathise with the clubs who have recruited hard to have a crack at promotion to Super League this year if it is to be denied and it would be a cruel outcome for those clubs impacted.”

SunSport understands four Championship clubs, including French outfit Toulouse, feel the competition should play on as talks between Super League and the Rugby Football League will thrash out promotion for 2020 after a meeting of Championship and League One clubs this afternoon.

Elstone said: “As we’ve moved on, the sense is our season will end up looking very, very different to what we thought it would do.

“Add that we’ve the added complication of having Toronto and Catalans, it makes it appear to me that relegation from Super League is not going to be a fair and equitable proposition for clubs.

“It wouldn’t feel right to do that and if we’re not there yet, it seems very likely to me that we will arrive at that point in the near future.

“That clearly has a knock on into promotion and my belief very strongly is if all those conditions apply to Super League, such that it’s unfair to relegate, then that has to be mirrored into the Championship.

“Against that same backdrop it would feel unreasonable and unfair to promote a team into Super League. The way this is looking it would seem that in the very near future, those issues may well fall away.”

It is widely assumed there will be no relegation and there is no desire to expand the top flight to 13 clubs.

But London boss Danny Ward, whose side was relegated last year, feels making a call now would be ‘disastrous’.

He said: “Firstly, it would be the right decision to scrap relegation, there’s no doubt about that.

“But the flip side is that for our competition it would be pretty disastrous if promotion got taken away from us.

“We only just got relegated last year from Super League and have invested quite a lot into what we think is a strong squad that would have a chance of bouncing straight back.

“Other teams in the Championship have done likewise and you’re talking a lot of money when it’s full-time teams trying to get promoted.

“I hope Championship clubs aren’t forgotten about, because we think we can put forward a strong case for being in Super League in any system.”

One popular option to get rugby league going again is by playing behind closed doors but there are fears that could kill some clubs.

No income and increased wages as furlough schemes, which almost all have taken advantage of, will have ended.

And Mazey believes that would not help, adding: “Based on what I’m seeing both in our sport and the communication coming out of others in respect of testing protocols and so on is we as part-time clubs outside of the top level will seriously struggle.

“It is imperative that Super League can restart behind closed doors as soon as possible to service the contractual obligations of the broadcast contracts which largely fund our sport.

“But in respect of our club, behind closed doors would prove extremely challenging based on the scenario planning and modelling we’ve carried out internally and I'd go as far as to say it’s almost impossible financially.”

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