MANY people thought the days of franchises were over, disbanded three years ago with the “licensing” system ready for the brave new era. But it seems they are back. In fact, in reality, they never really went away.
Indeed, as long as Super League has been in operation, the option of selling on a franchise has been available to clubs.
All the discussion earlier this month about struggling clubs having the option of selling out to another city or, more specifically this week, Wakefield Trinity potentially doing that, is nothing new.
It is an idea pitched to Super League clubs and dressed up as something fresh when really it is just the same as before. That is, if one of its members wants to sell on – and only if a suitable buyer can be found and ratified by the governing body – then a club’s share in Super League can be sold.
It remains to be seen whether Trinity will actually do that, but undoubtedly it is something that will be explored.
When Michael Carter sits down with his fellow shareholders – there are six with Carter holding the biggest total but far from a majority – they will have to weigh up the pros and cons of what course of action to take.
It would be a great shame if Wakefield were lost to Super League and, for all their loyal supporters, it is hoped they are not. But time is running out. They cannot stay at the decaying Belle Vue.YP rugby league writer, Dave Craven.
No one person at the club, not even the chairman, has the power to decree if Wakefield will or will not sell their Super League franchise. It must be a collective decision. Rightly so, in many ways, as there is plenty to consider as the club approach another key crossroad.
Only those who have invested not only financially but time and effort, too, will know whether they want to continue banging the drum for Trinity in Super League. You could not argue with any, though, who decide enough is enough.
Undoubtedly, they have endured countless problems for some time, many not created by the current regime, merely inherited.
The way, for instance, they seem to have been treated by Wakefield Council so far with regards to a lack of progress over a new stadium for the community beggars belief.
Gaining that is crucial to the club’s hopes of not only surviving at the elite level, but thriving in it, too, competing consistently.
With more talk of standards being raised from within Super League – average attendances of 6,500 and improved seating provision – Wakefield realise the task will not get any easier.
Last season they averaged 4,881, but Widnes Vikings, with 5,469, could also be wondering what the future holds in the long-term.
Admittedly, amid all this talk, there is no ‘offer’ even on the table to Trinity yet. However, if they do decide to invite offers – with the chairman making public on Thursday they would have to look at bids of £2m – it would be no surprise if such as Coventry or Newcastle quickly showed their hand.
It would be a great shame if Wakefield were lost to Super League and, for all their loyal supporters, it is hoped they are not.
But time is running out. They cannot stay at the decaying Belle Vue – that is confirmed – and they had been granted dispensation by the RFL for some time in that regard anyway.
If the ground issue is sorted, it will offer hope. Thankfully, there are talks ongoing.
But it is imperative all parties now come together to reach a positive conclusion to get that community stadium up and running.
If they don’t, do not be surprised to see top-flight rugby league disappear from Wakefield, possibly for good.