York City Knights campaign to join the Super League has sadly failed, it was revealed this lunchtime.
The Knights were one of six Championship clubs bidding to succeed Toronto Wolfpack as Super League’s 12th club.
Lord Jonathan Caine led an independent panel reviewing the submissions.
At 12.30pm today, live on Sky Sports News, he announced the winner.
Leigh Centurions won the place. “We were unanimous in our decision,” Lord Caine said.
“Each application was judged strictly but fairly against the agreed criteria that were circulated to clubs and published in November,” he said.
“All of the applications were of high quality and I would like to pay tribute to the clubs for the energy and effort they have put into this exercise in what was of necessity a very short time period.”
The Knights mounted a strong campaign to take the spot under the hashtag #HeartlandExplosion, winning support from people and organisations across the city and beyond.
In his role as Make It York chairman, former BBC director general Greg Dyke threw his backing behind the club.
York Minster, York City FC, City of York Council and many others also backed the bid.
Lord Caine, a Conservative peer who is vice chair of Rugby League’s All-Party Parliamentary Group, chaired a seven-strong panel consisting of three members from each of the RFL and SLE.
The full list of bidders was the Knights, the London Broncos, The Leigh Centurions, Featherstone Rovers, Toulouse and Bradford Bulls.
The process to invite a 12th team to play in 2021 began on November 2 after the rejection of Toronto Wolfpack’s application to return to the competition following their withdrawal from the 2020 season.
Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone said: “The independent panel was impressed by Centurions’ application which scored highly on all published criteria, and it is a credit to everyone at the club that they were able to produce such a comprehensive submission in such a demanding timeframe.”
RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said: “I know the five clubs whose Super League applications have been unsuccessful will be disappointed, but I also know they will be excited by the prospect of the Betfred Championship in 2021, especially following last week’s decision to elevate Newcastle Thunder from Betfred League 1.”
The Knights immediately tweeted out their congratulations to Leigh Centurions.
But fans were naturally disappointed.