Toronto Wolfpack have been told by Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone that they will not be exempt from relegation if they finish bottom of the table.
Toronto go to Warrington tonight, in the battle of the Wolves, as they continue to search of their first points of the season.
Head Coach, Brian McDermott has described the prospect of going down as the “elephant in the room”, with Toronto the only club without a win after three matches
Speaking on the matter, Elstone said: “I’m not minded that they should be exempt, I know that makes it very hard for them.
He went on to describe his thoughts on how the Wolfpack’s expansion plan has been managed and it’s not pleasant news for Toronto supporters and backroom staff.
“For me, there are two types of expansion. There is the strategic, planned, structured, logical expansion into an area that has got some heritage versus one that is less structured, less stable and arguably more spurious. I’ve been very consistent on that.”
“I think Toronto is in the last category and therefore has to prove to the game that it is a good long-term bet for us. It is still going through that process now.
“If it comes off and it proves to be well founded and there for the long term, that is terrific.
“But, with 26 games to go, I’m sure they’re not thinking about relegation.”
Toronto have made life extremely difficult for themselves by going into the season with a 23-man squad.
That was reduced to 17 last Thursday when Jon Wilkin and James Cunningham joined Darcy Lussick and Joe Mellor on the injury list, while Sonny Bill Williams, Chase Stanley and Greg Worthington were all unavailable.
Williams, who flew back to New Zealand for the birth of his fourth child, and Wilkin are back for Friday’s game and McDermott can also call on French international Tony Gigot, who has joined them on a four-week trial.
Yesterday, Worthington returned from his 10-game loan at Featherstone Rovers for one-game only and has been added to Toronto squad for their fixture against the Wolves.
In regards to Gigot, he will be entitled only to “legitimate expenses” and will therefore not impact on the salary cap which will be a relief to the Wolfpack, who have had their request for assistance with their salary cap denied by their fellow clubs.
It is also known that if Gigot stays for longer than his month-long loan he will have to be paid. This is unlikely to happen due to previously mentioned struggles
Toronto have also been given an exemption that will enable them to re-sign Canadian-born second-row/centre Quinn Ngawati, and Elstone says there could be further help for the club in the longer-term.
“I’ve spent a lot of time chatting to them about how, within certain constraints, Super League can help them,” he said. “It’s not huge, it’s not going to change their world but it is a show of good faith.
“We are looking at some fairly modest financial support about revenue streams that accrue to Super League as a result of Toronto’s participation.
“We are also looking at where there might be savings to Super League from Toronto being in the competition.
“What we need to do is give Toronto some certainty about what the future looks like and that was explored at a board meeting.”
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