Toronto Wolfpack’s Super League record expunged following exit

Super League has announced that Toronto Wolfpack will have their record for the season expunged following their withdrawal from the remainder of the current campaign.

The Canadian club announced on Monday they would be pulling out of the rest of the season due to the financial challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, which have been exacerbated by the Wolfpack being unable to play any home games this year.

A Super League statement said: “Following Toronto Wolfpack’s withdrawal from Betfred Super League 2020 earlier this week, the Super League Board agreed this afternoon that the club’s record for this season should be removed.

“Points earned in matches involving Toronto Wolfpack will be deducted, and for and against tallies will be adjusted accordingly.

“Individual players’ statistics will remain unaffected – but Man of Steel points earned in fixtures involving the club will be erased.

“Super League and The RFL Board will now give further consideration to Toronto Wolfpack’s future ahead of the 2021 season.”

Elstone shocked by withdrawal

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone revealed how Toronto Wolfpack’s decision to withdraw from the 2020 Super League season came as a shock, albeit with the competition and club being in regular dialogue.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Elstone explained how they were aware there were issues facing Toronto, although up until late last week they were still expected to be taking part when the season resumes on August 2.

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“It was a big surprise, albeit having said that we were aware of rumours within the game which probably weren’t fully aligned with what we were hearing from the club,” Elstone said.

“I think the club’s attempts to get to the start-line were very genuine and only as late as last Thursday, we got verbal assurance they were going to be ready.

“Clearly, the Covid crisis has exacerbated [the financial issues]; they were looking at playing every game away from home, they were having challenges around players and there were some severe logistical and operational challenges around the club.

“It became very difficult for them and they very genuinely tried to get to the start-line. It’s unfortunate the decision has been made so close to the start of the season, but we will accommodate it and move forward with what I’m convinced will be a great Super League season.”

It was a big surprise, albeit having said that we were aware of rumours within the game which probably weren’t fully aligned with what we were hearing from the club.

Robert Elstone

Toronto have been heavily financed by their owner, Australian mining billionaire David Argyle, since they entered the British professional game in League One in 2016.

As well as receiving no central funding, part of the agreement for the North American side joining entailed them having to pay for the travel of their opponents from the UK to Canada.

Former Wolfpack director of rugby Brian Noble has called for that arrangement to be re-assessed in the wake of them having to withdraw from the top flight for this year.

“Somebody should be asking the question: Is this a fair deal?” Noble told Sky Sports News, adding: “I personally don’t think it is.

“I think it needs to be reviewed and if rugby league is serious about expansion and making sure there are success stories in relation to new clubs, there needs to be a better strategy than we’re seeing at the moment.

“I just think, that for 2021, if someone was to say ‘You’re in Super League, you’ve got the finances and scrutinise all of that, and with all the people involved in Canada then I still think it’s a really exciting project. I think we have to look at all of the ramifications of this in light of coronavirus.”

Toronto had been due to play Hull Kingston Rovers as part of a triple-header at Headingley to mark the restart of the Super League season, but the priority for the competition now is to decide on how to realign.

Elstone did not rule out sanctions against the Wolfpack for pulling out at this stage and conceded there will have to be discussions about their future beyond the end of this year.

If rugby league is serious about expansion and making sure there are success stories in relation to new clubs, there needs to be a better strategy than we’re seeing at the moment.

Brian Noble

“The short-term priority is adjusting and realigning for 2020,” Elstone said. “In the medium term, we have to look at any potential sanctions for Toronto’s actions, essentially stepping down from 2020.

“In the longer term, it’s some considered dialogue with the Wolfpack, with Super League, with our clubs about their long-term plans and status in the competition.”

Sky Sports expert views

Brian Carney and Jon Wells both spoke to Sky Sports News to give their reaction to Toronto’s decision to withdraw from the remainder of the 2020 season…

Brian Carney: “I’m staggered that two weeks before the start of the season this decision would be made. We’ve had four months – albeit four months of uncertainty – to deal with the issues that are now being raised by Toronto Wolfpack.

“I would, to a large extent, absolve the other clubs and Super League of any blame because it looks like the rug has been pulled from underneath them. It’s a black eye for the competition and the game that two weeks before the restart, one of the glamour clubs pulls out.

“I have concerns about their future beyond 2020. If David Argyle is willing to withdraw the services of the club with two weeks to go, you have to put question marks against their future participation.”

Jon Wells: “It’s shock news. There have been uncomfortable stories coming out of the Toronto camp for a number of weeks now and it all seems to have come to a head.

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