BRADFORD Bulls come to the Vestacare Stadium tomorrow (Sun) expecting to be in the play-offs following the decision to stick to just one automatic promotion place.
A 14-team competition, two more teams than this year, will operate in the Championship in 2019.
To create that, there had been speculation that this year’s top two, York City Knights and Bradford Bulls, would go up automatically as well as the winner of a play-off featuring teams finishing third to sixth.
That didn’t happen. Instead, the RFL decided the champions will go up automatically along with the winner of a two-to-five play-off, as was always the intention.
There will, however, be a showdown between the team that finishes bottom of the Championship and the losing team in the League 1 play-off final for the right to play in the second tier next year.
Bulls chairman Andrew Chalmers told the Telegraph and Argus:
“It’s only right that we should earn our place in the Championship. It doesn’t change our mission and what we have to do.
“We had plans to play in the play-offs and that’s unchanged.
“Every point counts and its all hands to the pump; competition at the top of League 1 will be as active as ever.”
Chalmers headed the Championship and League 1 Advisory Board, and the clubs it represented, in opposing Super League-led proposals to get rid of the 8s.
A major off-shoot was a fear that clubs beneath Super League might face reduced central funding when the current TV deal expires at the end of 2021.
Chalmers had claimed the change wasn’t in the interests of the game as a whole, but after 68 per cent voted in favour he accepted the verdict.
“I have total respect for clubs voting in a way they believe to be in their best interests. You have to accept democracy at work.
“History will judge. Everyone got to vote so whether you agree or not, play on.”
It is thought nine Championship or League 1 clubs broke ranks to vote in favour.
Also on the Advisory Board were John Flatman (York), Mark Sawyer (Dewsbury), Mark Campbell (Featherstone) and Kevin Nicholas (Batley).