Newcastle Thunder will fill the position that will be available in the Championship when one club is promoted to the Betfred Super League to replace Toronto Wolfpack; Newcastle will set to step up to the second tier for the first time since 2009
Last Updated: 10/12/20 3:16pm
A recommendation to promote Newcastle Thunder to join the Betfred Championship in 2021 has been accepted by the RFL board.
The North-East side will make the step up from Betfred League 1 for the first time since 2009 and compete in a 14-team division that it is aiming to get its 2021 season underway in March next year.
Newcastle Thunder will fill the position that will be available in the Championship when one club is promoted to the Betfred Super League to replace Toronto Wolfpack.
The League One side were within touching distance of earning promotion to the Championship in 2019, but were defeated by Oldham in a promotion-deciding play-off final.
Thunder’s chairman Mick Hogan said: “This is tremendous news for Newcastle Thunder and vindicates the progress we have made on and off the field in the past five years.
“We believe we have the solid foundations in place to continue our growth over the next few seasons. Our academy and community foundation are growing the sport and our coaching structure, training facilities and stadium will help drive on-field progress.
“We now need to demonstrate the substance of our bid and it’s success by being really competitive on the field and continuing to grow the number of participants, supporters and sponsors.
“Our long-term mission is to win Super League by 2030 and this is a significant milestone towards that.”
A five-person RFL (Rugby Football League) panel determined which of the five League 1 clubs, (Workington Town, Doncaster, Barrow Raiders, Rochdale Hornets and Newcastle), who applied for Championship status would fill the vacant position in English rugby league’s second tier.
Determining criteria for the position was based on necessary qualifying credentials including enhancing the commercial value of the Championship, delivering value to other members of the Championship, being competitive on the field of play, being sustainable for the 2021 season and beyond and delivering the broader goals of the sport as set out in the RFL’s Strategy Reset document.
Air Commodore Dean Andrew OBE, the former RFL President who chaired the panel, explained: “Newcastle Thunder was the unanimous choice of the panel, for an outstanding application. The club’s coaching set-up and facilities are superb; its community outreach is well-established and growing.
“Newcastle and the North-East has considerable future growth potential, backed by its owner – as has already been recognised by the decision to play the Super League Magic Weekend at St James’ Park for a fifth time in 2021, and also by Rugby League World Cup 2021 with five fixtures to be played in the region including the tournament opener in Newcastle.
“The club has a clearly-stated aspiration of Super League success this decade. Overall the panel thought its application most closely matched the vision of the RFL’s Strategy Reset.
“On behalf of the panel, I thank and congratulate all five clubs who submitted applications. The applications were comprehensive, thorough, they showed aspiration and ambition, and they were very honest.
“I hope the four clubs who have missed out will see this as an opportunity to press for promotion in 2021.
“Good luck to them, and also to Newcastle Thunder in their preparations to play in what promises to be a vibrant and high-quality Betfred Championship competition.”