Michael Farrow's sports blog

A collection of new and old writings

…on the new Super League teams

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Brewery Field

Brewery Field; no 12,000 capacity, no Premier facilities, no 10,000 crowd but it will be Super League's newest venue

Oh my word, people are angry. To quote Chris Rock, “I haven’t seen white people so angry since they cancelled M*A*S*H”. The RFL announced Salford City Reds and Celtic Crusaders as the two new teams to Super League, retaining all twelve current clubs. Everybody involved with Leigh Centurions cried foul and Widnes Vikings’s fans wailed but the club themselves remained resolute. It was kind of obvious that Salford, being Manchester’s RL team, would be involved as the RFL wants a Manchester-based team and Salford have talked big. However, picking the Celtic Crusaders, the Paris Saint-Germain of their time, seems to reveal a deeply-flawed process where the RFL listened to everybody and then just picked who they wanted.

In the last few weeks, I’d rallied behind Toulouse as, despite the concern over the player pool, I was really feeling that they satisfied the criteria to a B licence level. However, they haven’t made it. From what has been said, Widnes didn’t make it because the club is far behind in youth development and the current holding company hasn’t owned Widnes for even a year. Meanwhile, Salford have a very nice, highly-researched business plan which suggests that if they get out of the Willows, they’ll attract more families and start pulling 12,000 crowds. Salford have been trying to get Mancunians interested in rugby league for years and they have been unsuccessful thus far so how much of that is marketing speak, time will tell.

Congratulations to Wakefield and Castleford though. Wakefield have been competitive for 10 years. As one of the smaller clubs in Super League, it’s good to see the RFL have noticed their achievement. I feel Castleford could be a force but they need a sustained period of time in Super League and need to catch up with the rest on the facilities front. When everybody played in a poor stadium, the gap was much smaller but Castleford have been left behind by the likes of Warrington and Hull. If they can get settled in a new stadium and develop players without the worry of relegation, they could well be the first real success story of licensing.

I have little to say about Celtic Crusaders. No reason holds water for me. I’ve heard it said that this will be like the Catalans, ignoring that Perpignan had a rugby league heritage and South Wales has none. I’ve heard that this club could gain a new fanbase. If the Crusaders played in Cardiff or Swansea, I could conceivably see it. They’re not, they’re in Bridgend, a small town in a mainly rural area of Wales. Leigh have better chance of drawing fans than these guys. It’s empire-building of the worst kind and I think it’ll all end in tears.

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Written by Michael Farrow

July 22, 2008 at 10:48 pm

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