Looking ahead to 2015

Date published: Thursday, May 15, 2014
THIRD-TIER rugby league clubs, including Oldham, are debating the format of an enlarged Kingstone Press Championship One in 2015.
Super League and the Championship will each be trimmed from 14 clubs to 12, which will increase the number in Championship One from nine to 13.
That number will rise again if, as expected, Coventry Bears follow Oxford, Hemel and Gloucester into the part-time professional ranks where all three enjoyed a relatively smooth baptism in their first season.
Coventry are currently in division three of the National Conference, beneath Saddleworth Rangers, St Anne’s and Waterhead in the overall pecking order, but they are known to have the facilities, backing and ambition to take a quantum leap into Championship One.
The RFL have made no official announcements as yet, but Championship One clubs are understood to have been given three options regarding the format of the restructured division, based on 14 clubs.
Option one is for a 26-game, home and away programme with automatic promotion for the team finishing top and a second promotion place decided by a play-off for teams finishing two to five.
Option two calls for 22 league games (same arrangements for seeing two clubs promoted) plus a 16-team knock-out cup involving all Championship One clubs plus league and cup winners from the National Conference.
The third option would require clubs to settle for 20 league games plus a cup competition, but with a different format for determining which clubs would be promoted. In this case, the winner of one v two would go up. The loser would joins teams three to five inclusive in a play-off to provide the other promotion winners.
Clubs seem to be favouring option two, while having concerns that there is no additional central funding in this division in 2015 and, far from providing more revenue, extra games can cost clubs money at this level.