Rovers chief Campbell wants long-term future for Super 8s format

Featherstone Rovers chairman Mark Campbell: "Standards in the Championship and League 1 have undoubtedly increased since the Super 8s format was introduced."
Featherstone Rovers chairman Mark Campbell: "Standards in the Championship and League 1 have undoubtedly increased since the Super 8s format was introduced."

Featherstone Rovers chairman Mark Campbell is calling for the sport’s current promotion and relegation format to remain in place long term.

Campbell’s comments follow views aired by Wigan Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan who has expressed concerns about the current Super 8s format.

Mr Lenagan recently revealed to members of the media that discussions between clubs and the Rugby Football League over potential changes to the current league structure - for 2018 - have already begun.

He believes there is a ‘fundamental problem” with the Super 8s and claims the way in which the format results in a “splitting” after 23 weeks needs to be “addressed”.

But Rovers chief Campbell is adamant the structure requires little in the way of change, stating continuity will prove vital.

“Standards in the Championship and League 1 have undoubtedly increased since the Super 8s format was introduced, there are no longer any easy games outside of Super League,” said Campbell.

“You just have to look at Dewsbury, who, this season, have lost games to the newly-promoted second-tier clubs.

“From our point of view, and from the point of view of our supporters, the Super 8s concept means every single game, and every single point on offer, counts a great deal. It counts more than ever before, in fact.

“When in the past have we been two or three rounds into a season and started to see fans become excited about their team’s chances, or worry about their team’s position in the division?

“The concept is delivering and it is absolutely vital we remain consistent on this subject. The Super 8s being in place, in my view, is crucial for several Super League, Championship and ambitious League 1 clubs.

“Mr Lenagan’s concerns over not knowing the fixtures after 23 weeks of the season, in my view, makes very little sense.

“We were faced with the issue directly last season, sealing our place in the top four on the final day of the regular season.

“We had less than five days to work things out and took the challenge head on, attracting massive crowds for all three of our home games in the Qualifiers.

“We had between 6,000-8,000 people turn out for our games against Hull Kingston Rovers, Leigh Centurions and Leeds Rhinos. Who would not want that? To put those numbers into perspective, just over 15,000 people live in Featherstone.

“There was clearly a desire for people to turn out in great numbers and watch our games beyond the 23rd round of the season. The concept certainly works for us.

“We have not had attendances anywhere near those in the last 20 years and, of course, from a business point of view, those sorts of games provide financial returns which allow teams like Featherstone to challenge, potentially prosper and, more importantly, grow, ensuring the Super 8s can continue to deliver huge excitement for tuning in and watching our sport.

“This club has not seen the kinds of attendances generated last year in the modern era of rugby league. We worked hard at it and enjoyed the experience, as did our supporters.

“I am sure the Rugby Football League will take on board Wigan’s concerns, regarding the Super 8s concept – and I am sure consultation will follow.

“Surely we cannot go back on this exciting format. It would only benefit clubs who believe they belong in Super League, not necessarily the ones who have earned the right to be there through on-field performance. This is sport after all.

“We as a club have not been consulted about the future of the Super 8s, as of yet, and given we are genuinely challenging for promotion, we would hope to be granted a seat at the table for such discussions.

“We have huge ambitions and will rule out no potential outcome this season or in the years ahead.

“However, if the opportunity of promotion or financial reward, based on our on-field efforts, becomes part of the sport’s history, then it is difficult to see how we could make a claim for a place in Super League.

“We cannot simply keep installing new systems and then pulling them. We have to be consistent and allow the game to adapt, as we are doing here at Featherstone.

“We have always supported innovation and are right behind the current concept. Looking after clubs who live in comfort street will do and has done the game no good at all.

“Growth will come if players, staff and supporters are able to dream big and attempt to deliver.”