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Wigan Warriors owner Lenagan predicts an end of the ‘crazy’ Super-8s

Ian Lenagan
Ian Lenagan

Ian Lenagan believes the Super-8s will be scrapped at the end of this year.

Season ticket renewals have already been released and yet fans still don’t know the competition structure for 2019.

Wigan owner Lenagan says new Super League chief executive Robert Elstone is making progress in getting the format changed in time for next season, amid opposition from some lower-league outfits.

“We’re not quite over the line yet, but there’s lots and lots of progress,” said Lenagan, who hinted Leeds – critics of the shake-up which saw the clubs take control of the competition – had changed stance.

“I have a very simple view – I don’t want to do the Super-8s again, and I don’t think it will happen again.

“To my mind it’s 11 out of 12 and maybe 12 out of 12 clubs who say, ‘This is a shambles’.”

Under the Super-8s, the competition splits after 23 rounds and the bottom four fight for places in next year’s top-flight alongside the Championship’s top quartet.

But it means the final seven fixtures are not known until the start of August and Lenagan is convinced the uncertainty is impacting on attendances and season ticket sales.

Despite Wigan’s match against Castleford being a battle between 2nd and 3rd, Friday’s crowd of 10,289 was the lowest reported at home for a Warriors regular season match since 2005.

“It’s crazy. It’s stupid,” said Lenagan, whose side play at Catalans this Saturday.

“Look at Catalans, how many can get there? My sister goes to every game, but she can not get a flight. It’s ridiculous.”

With Toronto and London winning their opening Qualifiers games – and Toulouse also involved – there is a lot of interest on whether new clubs will be in Super League next year... and, of course, whether current champions Leeds survive the threat of relegation.

“All the focus is on the bottom. Who’s bothered about the Championship? Sky aren’t interested,” said Lenagan, speaking after confirming the coaching appointments of Adrian Lam and Shaun Edwards.

“This is far more interesting to Sky – what’s happening in Super League and how we drive the top end excitedly forward.”

Elstone told a briefing with the national media yesterday: “I don’t think there’s necessarily anybody who’s going to be aggrieved by the solution. The RFL and Super League are listening to all stakeholders to come up with that.”

He expects confirmation of the new structure to be announced within the next two weeks.

Previous indications were Super League would stay with 12 clubs, playing home and away with additional ‘loop’ fixtures to pad the season and a straight-forward ‘one up, one down’ promotion and relegation.