Leigh sets sights on Super League

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Leigh are bidding for Super League status after launching a campaign to bring top flight rugby league back to the town.

Leigh Centurions are preparing their bid to apply for a place in the Super League – which would see them line up once again against local rivals Wigan Warriors.

The Co-operative Championship club has already started initial talks with Leigh Sports Village, Wigan Council, including Lord Peter Smith, and Leigh MP Andy Burnham.

They want to secure a return to the Super League for the first time since Leigh suffered relegation in 2005.

Leigh Centurions director Keith Freer said: "This bid is being made to benefit the whole of Leigh. It is a town bid not just the club.

"Leigh has bred some of Super League's top players and the facilities at Leigh Sports Village are already in place for top flight rugby."

Leigh MP Andy Burnham said: "Leigh is one of the strongest rugby league heartlands, considering the strength of Leigh Centurions, with a respected and experienced manager, the players the town produces, and with some of the strongest amateur clubs in the country.

"Super League rugby would be a wonderful boost for the town. We have a really strong case with the finest facilities in rugby league. "

Leader of Wigan Council Lord Peter Smith said: "Being in Super League would be a real boost to Leigh. Not only would long-suffering fans be able to watch great rugby league but the publicity for the Centurions in Super League would help the town to promote itself and benefit local firms and improve local employment.

"Fans from the rest of Super League clubs could see Leigh Sports Village and envy the best stadium in Rugby League. I hope the whole town can get behind the bid."

The Rugby Football League (RFL) is granting a Super League licence to at least one Championship club next spring, with a current top flight club losing their licence for the period 2012-14.

The deadline for applications is mid-December, with the winning Championship side being handed a licence in March.

The minimum criteria include a stadium with a capacity of 10,000 and an average attendance of 2,500 this season or last.

A Grand Final appearance or a Northern Rail Cup victory is also required, meaning the pressure is on coach Ian Millward and his players after they secured a place in this year's play-offs.

At present, only four teams – last year's Grand Final winners Barrow, beaten finalists Halifax, plus this year's Cup winners Batley and last year's winners Widnes – are eligible for that Super League spot.

Centurions were unsuccessful in their last application for Super League rugby in 2008.