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Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 18:31 UK

Super League's new clubs rejoice

Crusaders celebrate Super League status

Rugby league in Wales will be ignited by the Celtic Crusaders' inclusion in the expanded 14-team Super League, club president Jonathan Davies believes.

"This gives the Welsh public the opportunity to see top-class rugby league on a week-by-week basis," he said. "That's never happened before.

"The Welsh public love top-level sport and I'm sure that Celtic Crusaders will be a great success in Super League."

The Rugby Football League also elevated Salford from National League One.

All the existing franchises retained their Super League status with Salford City Reds and the Bridgend-based Crusaders the two teams to be included next season following a decision to extend the competition from 12 to 14 sides.

National League One is very exciting despite promotion not being available this season. Sports clubs are driven by results and that's what excites our fans

David Tarry
Salford City Reds chief executive

Each club has been awarded licences to play in the elite competition from 2009-2011, with relegation abolished during that period.

The former dual-code Wales international added: "We missed the boat in both 1995 and 1998, when a Super League side could have been placed down here but this decision more than makes up for it.

"Now, more of an infrastructure is in place with teams at all levels in Wales from schoolboys upwards, which wasn't the case 10 years ago."

Crusaders coach John Dixon said the news marked the peak of his time at the club, which started out from scratch in 2006.

"It's fantastic for the game internationally, fantastic for the sport, and I believe fantastic for Wales. There's no ceiling on this footy team now.

"I see this as a summer sport that will fill a void for the people of south Wales.

"I also know that not everyone can play for Wales in rugby union, and there are some boys who are more suited to our game - this will provide them a vehicle to play and achieve things at the elite level.

"I'm thinking we'll need to bring half a dozen players in now of the highest quality, of great experience, to step up to Super League - we're got the core here - but we'll need those to compliment our best members.

"We need those players now but in the future this club will all be about the youth of Wales."

Crusaders chief executive Dave Thompson said the news was a "relief" and insisted that the player and fan base in Wales was "huge".

"We have got three years to build and we can't afford to be a flash in the pan," he said. "We want to be extremely strong in three years time when we apply for the next set of licences.

"The Brewery Field will be in our plans in the short term and we will be looking to build a new stadium in the medium term."

Salford City Reds chief executive David Tarry said his club, currently top of National League One, would primarily benefit from the "stability" that the licence will give them.

"People have to realise that a handful of clubs are always spending far more than they've got in an effort either to stay in the Super League or to get back promoted to it," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"And overall, that damage that is done to the game and its finances isn't good.

"Now people can plan and put a business model together that ensures that when they do arrive they do so in a fit state."

Tarry also denied that the absence of relegation and promotion would prove a turn off for supporters.

"National League One is very exciting despite promotion not being available this season. Sports clubs are driven by results and that's what excites our fans."

The decision, announced on Tuesday, means that Widnes - one of the great names of English rugby league - missed out along with Leigh, Halifax, Featherstone and French club Toulouse.

see also
Crusaders & Salford win licences
22 Jul 08 |  Rugby League
Welsh rugby league's Crusade
22 Jul 08 |  Rugby League
The lure of the licence system
17 Jul 08 |  Rugby League
The licence system explained
17 Jul 08 |  My Club

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