Call to end franchise system

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Leigh’s MP is leading a campaign to bring back promotion and relegation to Super League.

Shadow Minister Mr Burnham, who is a big follower of Championship club Leigh Centurions, wants the Rugby Football League to scrap the licensing system which was introduced in 2008 in place of automatic promotion, arguing it is damaging the game.

“Winning the right to go up a level is the lifeblood of any sport,” said Mr Burnham, a former Government Culture Secretary.

“It provides the ‘dream factor’ that keeps clubs alive and gives hope to fans coming through the turnstiles. Take it away and any sport will suffer at its lower levels.”

Mr Burnham has written an open letter to the RFL in which he says: “Promotion and relegation add excitement and drama to the season at both ends of the tables.”

Now in its second period of three-year licensing, clubs from the Championship are invited to apply for licences every three years as long as they meet minimum standards on and off the field.

Widnes were elevated to Super League last year, taking the place of Crusaders after the Wrexham-based club opted to withdraw from the top flight.

An RFL spokesman said: “We are aware of the comments made by Mr Burnham, and welcome his contribution to the ongoing debate about licensing and promotion and relegation.

“Super League licensing is an evolutionary mechanism which is currently undergoing the detailed review process we always undertake after each round of licensing.”

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