ESL newcomers Les Catalans are poised to become European heavyweights as their playing roster for next year continues to grow. With the experienced league mind David Waite serving as director of football, Catalan has signed four NRL quality players and has been rumoured to be courting three others. Whilst Catalan administrators have stated that they only intend to include 8 foreign players on their 2006 roster, it is obvious that they are willing to spend up big in order to ensure these imports are of the highest quality.
THE London Broncos have had an eventful season: major signings, increased crowd figures, massive wins and the threat of insolvency. They currently sit in the top six, yet still face the threat of relegation. Leagueunlimited spoke to their CEO Nic Cartwright this week.
NATIONAL League One (NL1) club Whitehaven are cautiously considering a proposed buy out by a local businessman. The Cumbrian side, which currently operates on a shareholder system, has fielded an offer from business park developer Tony Ansell. His plan is to buy a majority share in the club, and then raise 3-4 million pounds from investors in order to bring Whitehaven?s home Recreation Field up to Superleague standards.
THE Newcastle Knights received a huge financial boost today announcing a Coal and Allied as their naming rights sponsor. The Hunter Valley mining company penned a deal to sponsor the Knights for the remainder of 2005 and 2006. Club officials claim the deal is the biggest in the Knights history, with sources suggesting the figure is close to $600,000 a season.
RESULTS from Round 16 of the English Superleague have compressed the tail end of the ladder, setting up a mighty battle to avoid relegation with 12 rounds still remaining. Seven teams are placed within four points of the relegation zone. On 5 points, Leigh are almost certain to be relegated, however due to the introduction of French club Les Catalan, two teams will be subject to relegation this year. It is this second relegation position that is placing pressure on up to 6 teams.
NATIONAL League One (NL1) clubs have had a mixed response to news that the RFL will modify promotion and relegation procedures for the ESL. Rugby Football League boss Richard Lewis recently announced that the current promotion-relegation system will be scrapped in 2009, with NL1 teams having to fulfill a range of financial and performance criteria in order to be considered for promotion. Such promotion will be less frequent with all ESL teams to be guaranteed 3 year ?licences?.
THE Toulouse Spacers are the only remaining hope for an upset in this years Powergen Challenge Cup after defeating National League 2 club Doncaster Dragons last weekend. The French Elite 1 club is the only remaining non-ESL team to qualify for the quarterfinals, which are to be played on the last weekend of June.
WHILE few would argue that the ESL competition is currently more competitive than ever, this weekend reinforced the fact that there is still a clear division between the genuine contenders and the also-rans. After coming so close to springing upsets Warrington, Widnes and London fans must be crying in their beers, after their teams were mowed down by ?Big Four? opponents.
IMAGINE this, you are Sonny Bill Williams and are about to confirm your allegiances to your country of birth. You get an anonymous call promising there $100,000 in it for you if you align with Australia instead. Scandalous right? Well this is what could happen if the NRL establishes the new Superannuation/Loyalty Scheme as planned. The NRL has announced their intention to introduce a super fund based on how many representative games players compete in. Associated with this is an understanding that the players will forfeit their fund if they switch codes.
THE NRL is currently discussing with club CEOs about potentially allowing club sponsors employ team members for services and pay these players outside of the salary cap. Each club will only be allowed two players under this scheme.