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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 May, 2005, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Franchise system 'is way forward'
Richard Lewis says he believes the franchise system planned for Super League is the best way to drive rugby league's professional development.

The Rugby Football League's (RFL) executive chairman said the current system is far from ideal.

"We think there's a better way to do it rather than promotion and relegation," he told the BBC's Sportsweek programme.

"The traditional way of getting clubs up into the engage Super League is not necessarily the best way."

The RFL is set to scrap promotion and relegation in time for the 2009 Super League season.

Promotion and relegation will remain in place for the next four seasons but then potential new clubs are likely to come from London, Wales or France.

We actually believe the quality of Super League by 2009 will be such that there will be great matches week in, week out
RFL chief Richard Lewis

Thereafter, the RFL will only consider admitting new teams on a three-yearly franchise system based on clubs' infrastructure, finance and results.

Lewis denied that the plans would lead to the competition stagnating.

"It will still be very much about who wins and who loses, I can assure you, because results will be incredibly important," he told Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme.

"If a team is bumping along the bottom of Super League year in year out for a couple of years they are going to be in severe danger of losing their franchise in the engage Super League.

"Equally, a club wanting to come up from the LHS National League has to prove they can be competitive and put a good team on the pitch in that league before they can realistically aspire to be in Super League.

"So results will still be very, very important.

"We actually believe the quality of Super League by 2009 will be such that there will be great matches week in week out, not just relying on one or two relegation battles at the end of the season to create the excitement at the foot of the table."

Lewis also confirmed that he would like to see Super League expand from 12 to 14 clubs in the future.

"We would like to expand - it's an ambition," he said.

"We believe that the heartland clubs are going to get stronger and stronger but we also think there are opportunities to expand in London, in south Wales and in France."


SEE ALSO
Sinfield urges relegation rethink
20 May 05 |  Super League
Super League set for 2009 changes
19 May 05 |  Super League


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