Backing for change

Date published: Tuesday, February 11, 2014
SWEEPING changes intended to revolutionise rugby league at professional level have received the Oldham club’s unqualified support.
In the short term it will mean the only club promoted from Championship One at the end of this season will be the winners of a top-five play-off.
Roughyeds fans need no reminding that Oldham have suffered heart-breaking defeats in five such finals in the last seven years.
Club bosses are adamant, however, that the far-reaching changes will benefit the game as a whole and that alterations to this year’s Championship One format must be regarded as merely a small image in a much bigger picture.
This season, as last, there will be 14 teams in Super League, 14 in the Championship and nine in Championship One — 37 in total.
In 2015, there will be 12 teams in Super League, 12 in the Championship and 13 in Championship One.
To achieve that, two clubs will be relegated from Super League at the end of this season; five clubs will be relegated from the Championship; and one club will be promoted from Championship One.
The return of promotion and relegation between all three divisions from 2015 onwards is seen as a major breakthrough in the restoration of public confidence in the sport and its administrators.
Said Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton: “Like most clubs, we fully support the changes.
“In terms of Championship One it will be harder this year because only one team is going up, but I was one of those who campaigned for promotion and relegation between Championship and Super League and I’m sure most people will regard that as good news.
“Furthermore, the changes overall provide a pathway right through from the bottom of Championship One to the top of Super League, which has to be good for the whole of the game.”
The nine clubs competing in Championship One for the one promotion spot on grand final day are Oldham, Gateshead, Gloucester, Hemel Stags, Hunslet, London Skolars, Oxford, South Wales and York.
Oldham start their 20-game programme — 16 regular home and away fixtures plus four ‘loop’ games —- with a trip to Maesteg to play South Wales Scorpions on Sunday, March 2.
Scott Naylor’s men have one more warm-up game in preparation —– against a Leigh Centurions squad at Whitebank this coming Saturday, February 15 (kick off 2.30pm).