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Northern Rail Cup demise is knockout blow for Knights
YORK City Knights head coach Gary Thornton has expressed his “disappointment” at the demise of the Northern Rail Cup.
The Rugby Football League have confirmed the competition, which has been running since 2002, will not be staged in 2014 – leaving Thornton, pictured, wondering how the governing body plans to plug a possible fixture gap next season.
The tournament, contested by Championship and Championship One clubs, has been used by teams as an opportunity to reach a showpiece final as well as giving them the chance to gel together ahead of the start of the league season.
But, with the current sponsorship deal coming to an end, the RFL has now abandoned the competition.
Thornton said the Knights had been planning their assault on Championship One next season firmly with the Northern Rail Cup in mind.
The coach reckons the end of the competition, if not replaced in some form, will have squad and financial consequences for outfits.
“There are only nine teams in Championship One. That’s only 16 league games, which is not enough,” he said. “The competition gave clubs in our division a chance to reach a final and I am disappointed that it is not going to be held.
“We need some extra games to make up the season. The Northern Rail Cup, at our level, would have given us at least 20 games.
“It gave an opportunity to bed our squad in and was like an extended pre-season.
“One of the unfortunate things is that our season starts quite late and people will want to play against us in January (in pre-season) when we won’t play until March.
“The competition also has a cup and a plate competition and we were optimistic of being able to play at some sort of final.
“We had geared ourselves to it being the same format as last year – that’s what we were planning towards – and we will have to shuffle our plans.
“I can’t imagine the RFL will leave it as a 16 game league. I don’t think that’s viable. It would mean cash flow issues as we wouldn’t be getting any money through the doors until April.”
The Press understands the RFL are considering options to create more fixtures for clubs in Championship and Championship One.
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