Enthusiastic Super League general manager Blake Solly says he will happily stake his reputation on the competition’s controversial new structure for 2015 being a major success.
He also claims, after clubs agreed to funding a significant increase in its marketing budgets, that within three years, players walking down high streets in London and Manchester will be widely recognised and finally earn the profile they deserve.
During a media briefing in Brighouse yesterday, staged with RFL chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer, it was also revealed that Super League clubs could be playing for bonus points under the radical new format next season.
Top-flight clubs currently operate a traditional system of two points for a win and one for a draw but those in the two Championship divisions receive three for a win and two for a draw, with a bonus point for losing by 12 points or fewer. One system will be introduced across all three divisions from 2015 and a consultation process is underway to determine the best option.
Solly has targeted 10 sold-out Super League games next season with raised attendances and commercial income.
From next season the First Utility Super League and Kingstone Press Championship will keep the same names and both feature 12 clubs, while Kingstone Press Championship One will be renamed Kingstone Press League One and comprise 14 teams, including newcomers Coventry.
At the end of the regular season, Super League and the Championship will split into the Super 8s – three groups of eight clubs based on league positions called Super League, The Qualifiers and Championship Shield – played on a seven-match mini-league basis.
In Super League, the top four will contest a play-off series in which first plays fourth and second meets third, with the winners going through to the title-deciding Grand Final. In The Qualifiers, the top three clubs will play in Super League the following season with the final place determined by a one-off Million Pound Game between the clubs finishing fourth and fifth, with the highest-placed team enjoying home advantage.
The maximum penalty for clubs going into administration will be doubled to 12 points while the top eight Super League teams this term will receive a bye into the 2015 Challenge Cup last 16.