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EXCLUSIVE: Majority of clubs OPPOSE Toronto Super League return

The majority of top level sides have made their feelings known as new owner aims to rescue Wolfpack. Toronto Wolfpack face an uphill battle to avoid Super League expulsion with a majority of clubs believed …

The majority of top level sides have made their feelings known as new owner aims to rescue Wolfpack.

Toronto Wolfpack face an uphill battle to avoid Super League expulsion with a majority of clubs believed to be against their re-entry into the competition in 2021.

Toronto pulled out of the remainder of the Super League season on July 20 citing financial pressures caused by the Coronavirus.

The expansion club’s majority owner David Argyle has walked away, leaving the franchise in millions of pounds in debt, but a prospective new owner has come forward in Canadian businessman Carlo LiVolsi to rescue the Wolfpack and they have applied to rejoin Super League next year.

However, Forty20 News understands at least six clubs are against Toronto being allowed back into the top flight.

It is believed Salford, Wakefield, Castleford, Huddersfield, Hull KR and Hull FC are not in favour of the Wolfpack being allowed back in while Leeds and Catalans are in favour of their return, St Helens have yet to come to a decision and are understood to be open to all possibilities.

Warrington and Wigan are believed to be undecided in their view, at this stage, and are demanding stronger due diligence be done to ensure the North American outfit’s financial viability.

Forty20 News understands the Rugby Football League (RFL) are supportive of Toronto returning in 2021, but the Super League CEO Robert Elstone is opposed.

“It will be a disaster for the governance and integrity of the game if they’re allowed in,” one club source told Forty20 News.

“All of their financial problems don’t stem from Covid-19, they were there before that.”

Another club executive said: “Super League don’t want them back in.”

A major stumbling body remains the Wolfpack’s request for an equal share of the central distribution of television money of around £1.8 million per year. This year that share was split between the other 11 Super League clubs.

LiVolsi has said publicly that his takeover of Toronto is dependent on the club being granted an equal share of the TV money and being allowed back into Super League, not to the Championship or League 1.

It is understood that goodwill towards the Wolfpack from the other clubs has been damaged after the previous actions of Toronto in the past few years.

Warrington CEO Karl Fitzpatrick told Forty20 News: “We need to see their presentation and the outcome of the due diligence before commenting.”

Asked for his club’s position, Huddersfield managing director Richard Thewlis said: “We have not had any sight of their bid to return so until [they] do so it is impossible to say”.

The Canadian side was admitted into the third tier League 1 in 2017 by the RFL and won two promotions in three years to join Super League at the start of 2020.

The Wolfpack signed former All Black Sonny Bill Williams for its maiden Super League campaign and last year averaged home crowds of 7,882 at Lamport Stadium.

But Argyle burned through around £18 million in three and half years, faced lawsuits for unpaid bills and has left a string of players, staff and creditors unpaid for several months.

Players have not been paid for four months and last month publicly pleaded for support, tweeting: “Third month of no pay for the players, staff and families of @TorontoWolfpackofficial @RugbyFootballLeague #Forgotten #MentalHealth”.

One rival club source said it is “not a slam dunk” that Toronto will be blocked from rejoining Super League.

A final decision on Toronto is expected to made by the Super League board on September 25th.

No decision has been made yet on whether the competition will continue with 12 clubs or 11 clubs in 2021.

The RFL and Super League both declined to comment when contacted by Forty20 News.

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