Toronto Wolfpack OUT of Super League season with club's future in disarray

TROUBLED Toronto Wolfpack have sensationally pulled out of Super League in 2020 due to “unexpected and overwhelming financial challenges” - leaving their own future in serious doubt but also wreaking havoc on a campaign that is due to restart in less than a fortnight’s time.

Toronto Wolfpack's Sonny Bill Williams (SWPIX)
Toronto Wolfpack's Sonny Bill Williams (SWPIX)

The Canadian franchise has struggled ever since earning promotion by winning the Million Pound Game against Featherstone Rovers last autumn.

Despite the huge signing of dual-code superstar Sonny Bill Williams, they lost all of their opening six Super League games before mustering their only win of the year in the Challenge Cup at Huddersfield Giants.

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But the coronavirus then shut down the sport soon after in mid-March and Brian McDermott’s side - who do not take any central funds from Super League’s broadcasting deal - have been hit worse than most.

Unable to play any games in Canada due to the pandemic, they were set to return to action against Hull KR at Emerald Headingley when Super League resumes on August 2.

However, they have been hit by visa issues for their seven overseas signings and remain dogged by financial problems which has left their future in jeopardy.

A club statement this afternoon read: “Toronto Wolfpack can confirm that the club has informed both Super League Europe (SLE) and the Rugby Football League (RFL) that the team will not be restarting the campaign as scheduled on August 2nd.

“The Wolfpack will not participate in the conclusion of the 2020 Betfred Super League season, or in the remainder of the 2020 Coral Challenge Cup.

“This decision has not been taken lightly, and in consideration of a range of factors specific to the club as the only transatlantic team in the league.

“The COVID pandemic has presented unexpected and overwhelming financial challenges to the Wolfpack organization.

“Greatly reduced ticket, sponsorship, merchandise and game day revenue streams have resulted from the loss of all 11 of the team’s home Super League games in Toronto.

“The Wolfpack would be left covering significant additional costs simply to complete a season of games in the UK including COVID testing, stadium rentals, medical costs and player pay increases to align with the rest of the league.

“Player and staff payroll, an issue of recent media attention, has been guaranteed by Wolfpack majority owner David Argyle and is secured by a personal guarantee to the RFL.

“Refunds for all 2020 single game tickets, as well as season membership refunds that have been requested by individual fans, will be returned by the club to Ticketmaster in the near future in order for the refund process to be fulfilled.

“The Wolfpack would like to thank both the SLE and the RFL for their support in addressing a number of the club’s issues in recent weeks including immigration, scheduling, promotion / relegation and consideration for financial support.

“The club fully intend to field a team in the 2021 season, and will be working with SLE and the RFL to understand this process moving into the next season.

“The Wolfpack would also like to thank our loyal fans for their ongoing support during a hugely challenging time.”

It remains to be seen how this will affect the rest of the competition but it seems unthinkable any of the remaining 11 teams would now be relegated from Super League.

A Super League statement read: “Betfred Super League and the RFL are very disappointed to learn that Toronto Wolfpack will not be able to fulfil their obligations to Super League 2020.

“Super League Europe and The RFL have been in regular dialogue with the Wolfpack over the past weeks and months regarding the club’s ability to take part in the competition and firm assurances had been received as recently as last Thursday, 16 July.

“The club’s decision is especially disappointing given the imminent restart of the season. Our immediate focus is on getting the season back underway on August 2 and meeting the needs of our host broadcaster, Sky Sports.

“A discussion around the longer term consequences and the future of the Wolfpack in Super League will commence shortly.”

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