New Sky deal for Super League yields benefit for Championship

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St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus believes Super League’s new television deal should end the clubs’ financial woes and guarantee solvency “at a stroke”.

Super League will remain on Sky Sports until the end of 2021 after a new five-year deal was announced yesterday.

Although no figures have been divulged, it is thought the new agreement represents a considerable increase on the £127m five-year deal signed in 2011.

“This is a triumph for our sport and in particular for its premier competition,” said McManus. “It is certainly a total endorsement of the new league structure adopted for 2015 onwards.

“The new system will improve the competitiveness and quality of competition throughout the season and the new media valuation clearly recognises and reflects that unequivocally.

“At a stroke this ensures solvency for all Super League clubs for the foreseeable future and provides confidence to fans and sponsors.”

The new deal was welcomed by the 14 Super League clubs at a meeting on Wednesday and they are now expected to give the go-ahead for an increase in funding for the Championship clubs ahead of the new league structure.

Three Super League clubs have been in administration over the last three years while Wakefield and Bradford are currently having to cut costs after discovering £400,000 holes in their budgets for 2014. Sky has held exclusive live rights to Super League since paying £87m in the Spring of 1995 in a deal which included a hefty sweetener to smooth the way to a switch to a summer season.

Subsequent deals fell in value until a five-year agreement worth just £63m to run from 2004-08 was struck, although that was renegotiated upwards in November 2007 when the RFL secured around £50m in a new three-year Sky contract to run from 2009-11.

Sky have also pledged to once more screen matches from the Championship from 2015 with the current deal struck by Premier Sports expiring this year. The BBC have the rights to international rugby league for the next three years.

Wakefield have been forced to cut their ground capacity by more than half to 5,333 after being told to carry out structural repairs to the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.

The Wildcats are asking for volunteers to carry out the work, the need for which came to light following an annual review of the stadium’s safety certificate.

Wakefield’s consultant chief executive Kath Hetherington said: “We will be doing everything within our power to get the stadium to a point where we can operate at an increased capacity as soon as possible, so we need volunteers.”