Growing divide in Championship is a worry says Nicholas

Growing divide in Championship is a worry says Nicholas

Batley Bulldogs chairman Kevin Nicholas believes that Championship clubs are now faced with “a very unfair playing field” after Leigh Centurions received a £500,000 parachute payment from Super League clubs. 

Nicholas’s comments come in the wake of Nigel Wood’s departure as CEO of the Rugby Football League. 

The Bulldogs chairman feels the parachute payment to Leigh – who already received £750,000 for their relegation – is evidence of a growing divide between clubs. 

“Clearly this means the rest of the Championship clubs are faced with a very unfair playing field,” said Nicholas. 

“I hope Super League clubs can see our side of the argument, Leigh owner Derek Beaumont had spent £2m trying to make Leigh a Super League club and they obviously wanted to make things easier for him. 

“No-one wants to see players and staff made redundant, I have sympathy with Derek in that position. 

“And their argument (the Super League clubs) is that it’s their money. If they want to help Leigh they can. 

“But you can very clearly see what happens next, and I think it’s very dangerous for the sport.”

Nicholas is also of the opinion that the departure of Nigel Wood could see the sport split into two. 

The Batley chairman says he has seen a letter from Wigan Warriors chairman, Ian Lenagan, that outlines a vision where Super League teams would control the entire sport, with League 1 losing its semi-pro status. 

“I was able to see a letter from October 7 that Ian Lenagan sent to all the Super League clubs,” added Nicholas. 

“Some of it expressing reasonable criticism of the RFL, making it clear that Super League should be making the decisions on where all the TV money goes, and should have complete control – not the independent RFL board.

“Ian Lenagan, because of his understanding of how the Football League (EFL) works, wants our governance to mirror their model (where the Premier League is a separate entity).”

Lenagan’s proposal would remove all funding from League 1, forcing many traditional clubs to become community sides. 

Nicholas believes that Wood’s departure could see a small number of people take control of the sport, with only their own interests at heart. 

He said: “A limited number of people, with entirely selfish interests, will be making decisions that benefit them and not the whole sport.

“As chairman of Batley Bulldogs I look after the interests of Batley Bulldogs first and foremost. 

“But I would like to think that a chairman also thinks about the good of the whole game.

“The main thing Nigel Wood has brought to the table is stability, I thought Nigel and Richard Lewis worked really well together. 

“I don’t agree with everything they did, especially franchising, but during their time they brought stability to the sport. 

“Nigel Wood’s legacy will be the unity he created among all the different sections of the sport – and that’s what’s at risk now. 

“From the community game, through the semi-pro clubs and to Super League, he gave us one sport under one umbrella and for him to keep that together was a great achievement. 

“What Nigel Wood and the RFL board have done is provide an independent body and that’s what we must not lose.”

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