Toronto Wolfpack have been granted a stay of execution after Super League teams deferred a decision on the Canadian club’s application for re-entry.
Toronto pulled out of Super League in July after owner David Argyle announced he could no longer fund them but they are keen to return in 2021 under new ownership and recently submitted an 80-page business plan.
Their bid could have been rejected at Friday’s Super League board meeting but instead the PA news agency understands delegates agreed to give Toronto businessman Carlo LiVolsi an opportunity to present more details of his plans to re-launch the club.
The application went before a virtual meeting of the Super League board, which largely comprises owners or chief executives of the other 11 clubs following the breakaway from the Rugby Football League in 2018.
The RFL is known to be supportive of Toronto’s bid but only has one vote, the same as Super League’s executive chairman Robert Elstone, who is thought to have strong reservations over the North American franchise.
RFL chairman Simon Johnson represented the governing body at the meeting, which agreed to a request from LiVolsi for more time to present his argument.
The Super League executive has been given four weeks to weigh up the Wolfpack’s case and that decision was welcomed by Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington, who is a well-known supporter of the expansion into North America.
“It’s a sensible decision,” said Hetherington.
“It gives both Toronto Wolfpack and the Super League and RFL executives time to work through things properly and it also gives some hope to those Toronto players and staff that they might get paid this year.”
Asked if the delay increases the chances of Toronto’s re-admission, Hetherington said: “You would think so, I’m sure they will be satisfied with the decision.”
Toronto withdrew from their inaugural season in the top flight in July, largely blaming the impact of the coronavirus.
The club were unable to play any home games, depriving them of their major source of income, and Argyle said he no longer had the resources to fund them after his business was caught up in the financial crisis.
There is still some resentment over the way the club pulled out of the league just days before the scheduled August 2 restart and bitterness grew when revelations surfaced that the players have not been paid since June.
LiVolsi insists he will pay the wages in full if the club are reinstated and the GMB trade union which represents rugby league players says it has brokered a deal worth in the region of STG1million ($A1.8 million).
A move to restore Super League to a 12-team competition could count in their favour and St Helens and Warrington are thought to be supportive of Toronto’s case, along with Leeds.
Toronto have operated without central distribution since their entry into League 1 in 2017 but LiVolsi insists that must change if they are to be re-admitted and that could sway some of the less affluent clubs who are loathe to take a cut in funding.