Featherstone Rovers are ready to take the place of London Broncos if they pull out of Super League next season.
Speculation continues to mount over the future of the bottom-of-the-table Londoner club under owner David Hughes.
The Broncos, whose lease at the Twickenham Stoop runs out this year, played their final home game last Saturday without making any reference to their home venue for 2014 and have yet to announce any signings for next year despite losing at least eight players from their current squad.
They have not won a league game since April, lost 70-0 to Wigan in the Challenge Cup semi-final last month and have seen crowds drop to an average of just 2,213 this season.
With two clubs to be relegated at the end of next season to make way for a 12-team Super League, it is thought London’s long-term backer Hughes may be considering withdrawing his considerable financial support.
No one from the club was available to comment, but the Rugby Football League admit it is a worrying situation.
“The RFL have some concerns and have been speaking to London Broncos over the last seven days,” a league spokesman said.
If the Broncos, who have experienced a tenuous existence in the capital since their formation as Fulham in 1980, were to pull out of Super League, the RFL could operate a 13-team competition in 2014 but Featherstone have issued a statement insisting they would be in a position to step in.
Rovers’ majority shareholder Feisal Nahaboo says the Championship club have access to a seven-figure sum to enable them to be competitive in the top flight.
“While not ideal, we can be ready to mix with the greats of rugby league,” said Nahaboo. “We deserve it. We’ve won the league three years on the trot and this year’s shield is in our hands. Statistics don’t lie and it would be farcical if space became available and we weren’t offered entry.
“The sport is starved of funds and we’ve made it clear we have the funds available to build Featherstone Rovers into a rugby league powerhouse and we should be encouraged, not discouraged.
“We own our ground, we have a strong board with at least two key shareholders generating seven-figure profits from businesses they run successfully and own.
“It all bodes well for Featherstone Rovers to show that entrepreneurs can enter the sport of rugby league and commercialise the game and attract investment.”
Sheffield Eagles’ Misi Taulapapa has agreed a new two-year deal with the club.
The deal extends his stay until the end of the 2015 season.