Just two days before their promotion showdown with Featherstone Rovers, the Toronto Wolfpack have got the green light to join the Super League if they win the Million Pound Game this weekend.
The transatlantic team has been in discussions with English rugby league officials, with scheduling, travel costs and the club’s financial status high on the agenda.
A source indicated Super League officials signed off Wednesday on Toronto’s possible promotion. The Rugby Football League, the sport’s governing body, made it official Thursday.
The source was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the deal.
“Betfred Super League wishes to confirm its position on the potential promotion of Toronto Wolfpack or Featherstone Rovers ahead of Saturday’s Betfred Championship Grand Final,” the RFL said in a release.
“The winners of the Million Pound Game will be welcomed into Betfred Super League, as approved by the governing body, the RFL. Promotion is sanctioned by the RFL who have confirmed that both clubs have met all the relevant criteria.”
While Toronto has been dominant on the field this season, winning 27 of 28 matches in the second-tier Championship, the future of the Wolfpack was raised last month when Super League chief executive Robert Elstone cited the need for “a number of assurances” before admitting the North American franchise to the sport’s top tier.
Wolfpack officials, while understanding the need for clarity, questioned the timing of the comments considering the team had come within one win of promotion in 2018.
“It would be a distraction if we were genuinely worried about our off-field things,” Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott said after training Wednesday.
“The questions that are being asked are absolutely credible, for sure. No drama. It’s the right thing. I would do the same … Those questions, they’re not the problems. The assumptions and the public statements so close to the end of the season (are). Look I’m not an administrator but I would imagine those things should be sorted out by now.”
Toronto has paid for visiting teams’ travel and accommodation costs since joining the third-tier League 1 in 2017, a burden eased by a sponsorship deal with Air Transat. It has spent the last two seasons in the Betfred Championship.
The travel issue is complicated by the fact most Super League games are Thursday or Friday evening. Toronto has played its home games on weekend afternoons, allowing for better travel options.
The Wolfpack have also had some off-field issues with a missed payroll and a lawsuit by a TV production partner over alleged non-payment. Majority owner David Argyle stepped down as chairman and CEO this season after finding himself in the middle of a racism scandal involving an opposition player.
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