Clubs vote to scrap Super-8s structure

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The Super League will revert to a more conventional structure next season after clubs today voted to scrap the Super-8s.

The decision was no doubt welcomed by St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus, who has long been a critic of the current system and believed change was needed to revitalise the competition.

Next season is set to see 12 clubs compete over 29 rounds – home and away games padded by ‘loop’ fixtures – with a five-team play-offs and a one-up, one-down promotion and relegation aspect.

Clubs voted at an EGM today on an RFL proposal to ditch the Super-8s/Qualifiers structure for 2019.

It was a secret ballot with 55 votes cast.

Super League clubs received two votes each, to match the number from the Championship and League One, with the remaining seven made up of bodies within the community game.

A majority vote was needed to pass the proposal so long as at least four votes came from Championship and/or League One clubs.

Initial reports suggested around 66 per cent of the vote was in favour for change.

This is the fourth year in which the Super-8s has been in force. Under the structure, Super League splits after 23 rounds, with the bottom four peeling off to form a new mini-division - the Qualifiers - and battle for their top-flight status along with the top quartet from the Championship.

St Helens, and the other top-flight clubs except for Leeds, made their stance clear when they took control of Super League from the RFL and brought in Robert Elstone as chief executive.

But their plans to revert to a more traditional format - including one-up, one-down promotion and relegation - met with resistance from some clubs, particularly in West Yorkshire, prompting the call of an EGM to settle the issue.

They wanted assurances over their level of funding beyond 2021.

That is the year the current Sky Sports contract expires; receding attendances and viewing figures has led to fears the next offer from the broadcasters will be on reduced terms, which was why Elstone was brought in with the brief of revitaling the competition before negotiations begin.