WELSH club Crusaders have dramatically withdrawn from Super League from next year.

The Wrexham-based outfit had  widely been expected to be awarded  one of the 13 remaining licences to  compete in the elite competition for  the 2012-14 period.

The surprise decision to pull out  means a reprieve for Wakefield, who  had were the red-hot favourites to  miss out on a place in the 14-team  division.

Championship side Halifax failed  in their application for a licence,  meaning the other 12 current Super  League clubs will join Wakefield and  Widnes in Super League next year.

The Rugby Football League only  made their decision as to the make-up  of Super League on Monday.

Chairman Richard Lewis admitted  he was not shocked by Crusaders’  decision, which will end a tumultuous  three-year stay in Super League.

Lewis said: “There was bound to be  a lot of speculation beforehand and it  was important we kept the process  confidential. It was a secret for  virtually every club up until we made  the announcement.

“The Crusaders situation had been  part of the licensing process for many  months. It came as no surprise over  the last week that things were coming  to a head.

“The final decision from Crusaders  came on Monday and the RFL made  its decision then.”

Crusaders, originally based in  Bridgend, were admitted to Super  League in 2009 after making rapid  progress in the Championship  competitions.

Yet after just one season they were  forced to move to north Wales due to  financial problems.

Uncertainty over their future  continued and they were later deducted four points for the current season  after falling into administration.

There had also been further  controversy when it emerged several  overseas players had been playing for  them before their elevation to Super  League without the required visas.

Despite that, the RFL’s  commitment to expansion was  thought likely to earn them a  prolonged stay in Super League ahead  of Wakefield, who were also in  administration and have failed to  meet minimum stadium criteria.

Crusaders had even started  recruited for 2012, signing former  Great Britain centre Keith Senior  from Leeds and tying Wales rugby  union legend Gareth Thomas to a new  contract.

Crusaders chief executive Rod  Findlay said: “This has not been an  easy decision but after a lengthy and  exhaustive examination of the club’s  finances, our view is that Crusaders is  not sustainable as a Super League  club at this stage.

“Every other aspect of the  application was strong and we now  need to work to ensure we retain those  elements, particularly the community  and player pathway programmes in  north Wales, an area where no rugby  league was played two years ago.

“A lot of people have done a lot of  work to get us to where we are now but  it has become clear that we cannot  continue in our current guise and so a  decision was taken to withdraw our  licence application.

“It would not have been fair to the  players, the supporters, the other  clubs or the engage Super League  competition for us to proceed with  our application.

“I would like to congratulate those  clubs who were successful in their  applications.

“In many ways the licensing process  helped us realise that the club was not  viable in Super League at this stage  and I would like to place on record the  club’s thanks to the Rugby Football  League for the practical support they  have given us in the last few years.

“I would also like to thank the club  owners for their support over the last  two seasons.”

The RFL now hope Crusaders will  be able to continue as a club in the  Championship next season.

Lewis added: “They need to take  stock of their situation but I think  there is a reasonable chance they will  play in the Championship.

“It would be good if they did. It  would be great for Wrexham and  north Wales.

“The people there have responded  well to rugby league being played in  north Wales and I am sure they will  give it a long, hard look.”

Many of the Crusaders’ top stars  and now expected to find new clubs,  with the Giants the favourites to  complete a deal for impressive  back-row forward Jason Chan.

For clubs such as Wakefield there  were stern words that the RFL could  revoke licences if promises are not  kept.

Wakefield were one of four clubs  awarded C grade licences along with  Castleford, Harlequins and Salford.

Lewis said: “The revocation of  licences is very much about keeping  pressure on the clubs.

“The clubs will have promises in  their licence applications they will  need to fulfil.

“There is an opportunity for  licences to be lost if clubs are reneging  on their promises.”

The Wildcats now face the task of  having to think about re-building a  competitive squad for Super League  XVII, with many of their top players  having already put plans to move on  for next year.

Those include three-quarters Luke  George and Aaron Murphy who  continue to be linked with moves to the Giants.

See the next page for a breakdown of licences and how they are worked out

THE 14 clubs who will compete in Super League between 2012 to 2014 and their new grading licence (current licence grading in brackets), with Widnes having been promoted.

B - Bradford Bulls (B)

C - Castleford Tigers (C)

B - Catalan Dragons (C)

C - Harlequins RL (C)

B - Huddersfield Giants (C)

A - Hull FC (A)

B - Hull KR (C)

A - Leeds Rhinos (A)

B - St Helens (B)

C - Salford City Reds (C)

A - Warrington Wolves (A)

C - Wakefield Wildcats (C)

C - Widnes Vikings (-)

A - Wigan Warriors (B

ALL applications submitted for a Super League licence for the period 2012 to 2014 have been assessed against A Grade criteria.

There are over 60 in all, covering five key areas:

Commercial, Marketing, Media and Community.



Governance and Business Management.

Playing Strength and Player Performance Strategy.

Clubs that meet all of the A Grade criteria across these five areas have been awarded an A Grade licence. For example, those clubs that have been awarded A Grade Licences have to prove the following:

Commercial income of at least £1m in each of 2009 and 2010.

Average weekly home crowds of at least 10,000 in either the 2008, 2009 or 2010 seasons, and an average home crowd of at least 9,000 in the other two seasons.

At least 5,000 season-ticket holders in 2009 or 2010.

A stadium with an operational capacity of at least 12,000, with at least 12,000 of the stadium capacity under cover and at least 5,000 seats (all of which are under cover).

Audited turnover of at least £4m for the financial year ending in 2009 and unaudited turnover of at least £4m for the financial year ending in 2010.

A Business Plan which includes budgeted profit and loss accounts and cash flow statements covering the four year period 01/01/2011 to 31/12/2014.

All NI/PAYE/VAT payments up to date, with the exclusion of any ongoing investigation or recent extraordinary assessments.

Achieved a top-eight finish in any of the 2008, 2009 or 2010 Super League competitions.

A four-year Player Development Strategy covering 2011 to 2014, with a clearly defined pathway from school to club to Service Area to Professional Club. The plan must stipulate budget and staffing structures.

Demonstrated over the course of the 2009 or 2010 seasons that their community activity has engaged at least 10,000 individuals with the club.

The club must have the following full-time employees: chief executive officer, media lead with at least two years experience, marketing lead with at least two years experience, community lead, commercial lead with at least two years experience, financial controller, player performance manager.

B Grade clubs are clubs that meet most of, but not all, the A Grade criteria or satisfied the RFL Board that they will meet the A Grade criteria in the next round of licensing.

C Grade clubs are clubs that failed to meet a significant number of the A Grade criteria, or were unable to satisfy the RFL Board that they would be able to meet the A Grade criteria in the next round of licensing.