DEWSBURY RAMS head coach Neil Kelly believes the current distribution of funding in the Championship is restricting clubs from progressing.
The Rams are looking to build on last year’s eight-placed finish in what will be Kelly’s first full season in charge of the club.
To do so however, Dewsbury will have to defy the odds as they look to compete against sides who have received significantly more funding than themselves.
“I think the funding allocation process in the Championship could be better,” said Kelly.
“I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, because it has been done with the best intentions in terms of taking the competition forward and getting it a higher profile, but it could be better.
“I have spoken to other coaches and they are of a similar opinion.
“I don’t see any positives in giving people too much money.
“The gap between the top four and the other clubs needs reducing – I’m not saying the reward needs to be smaller, but the gap definitely needs closing.”
Leigh have received an additional £500,000 parachute payment following relegation to the Championship.
Kelly believes the rewards on offer could lead to clubs risking more than they can afford.
“Why have a reward-based system that actually predetermines or dictates table standings as a result of the reward being so significantly different to what everybody else is getting?” Kelly questioned.
“It almost encourages speculating financially with your budget rather than taking a more common sense approach.
“I accept that successful sides need rewarding, but I think the size of the reward encourages clubs to be speculative with their money.
“‘If’ is a huge word in rugby league because it’s the motivating factor for some teams spending money that they haven’t got.”
Kelly stressed the size of the challenge that lies ahead of teams like Dewsbury in the Championship.
“I’ll use Featherstone as an example – I don’t know the exact figures, but let’s say they get £200,000 for finishing in the top four. That added £200,000 in their budget represents my entire squad,” he said.
“If Featherstone have got ambitions to get into Super League, then they should be able to generate the finances themselves, they shouldn’t need somebody giving them more money.”
The recruitment of players is an area where smaller clubs can fall short as a result of smaller budgets and this can play havoc particularly in the off-season, as clubs seek to boost their squads for the year ahead.
“I have been trying to recruit a side for the new season, as has Matt Diskin at Batley and everyone else,” said Kelly.
“What we are finding is that the quality of player has not changed, but the asking price has, so there is an inflation effect.
“If I’m an agent and represent a player and let’s say I go to Featherstone, they might say they would pay £25,000 a year for that player.
“If they don’t sign him, the £25,000 remains in the agent’s head, so when it comes to Dewsbury, Batley, Halifax etc, the asking price is £25,000.”
The Championship is currently without a sponsor with Kingstone Press’s deal expiring last year.
Kelly believes the reward-based system currently in place means the Championship is not an attractive prospect for potential investors.
“The league is in a situation now where it is looking around for a new sponsor, but why would any company want to sponsor a competition that is a foregone conclusion, when you know which teams will finish at the top and which will finish at the bottom?” said Kelly.
“That is not as attractive as a league where you think anyone who kicks a ball in the competition can win the thing.”