YORK receives 8.4million visitors per year, according to Visit York data. Next year, York City Knights chairman Jon Flatman believes Super League should come to the Minster city as well.

Following Toronto Wolfpack’s resignation from the competition earlier this season, a 12th spot has opened up in the top tier of English club rugby league and York are preparing an application - along with five other Championship teams - to fill it.

An independent panel chaired by Lord Jonathan Caine will adjudicate on the applications.

The Knights already have two teams that compete at the highest level of their respective competitions, with sides in the Women’s Super League and Learning Disability Super League.

It has also been confirmed that York will be a host city for the Rugby League World Cup next year, with women’s teams from New Zealand and Australia set to play at the LNER Community Stadium.

Flatman believes York - both city and club - can offer plenty to Super League, from business expansion to sporting facilities, while the competition would create a boom for visitors and residents alike.

The club and the sport can also “play a healthy role in the recovery process from coronavirus and create a symbiotic relationship,” he believes.

“York should be in Super League primarily because of the phrase ‘heartland expansion’,” said Flatman.

“The geography of York and North Yorkshire is absolutely right to sustainably grow a club at the top level of rugby league.

“The city and the region have an audience and demographic that is right to grow the sport.

“York has two world-class universities, it is the UK’s first UNESCO media city. It has an unbelievable demographic - as does North Yorkshire - for expanding the footprint of Super League.

“The area has over 100 years of consistently thriving amateur and community clubs, and it’s the largest county in the country that the sport would invest in.

“It already has a women’s Super League and Disability League team at the Knights, and in Heworth, (York) Acorn, the newly-led (New Earswick) All Blacks and York Lokos masters, we have a culture and heritage of rugby league, and there is growth in North Yorkshire with Harrogate Fireants. We’re not putting a pin in the map for a new sport.

“The facilities of the club, both in training and stadium, fits what an elite Super League club should look like, and the facilities that players and spectators should - in some ways - be demanding and wanting.

“The Rugby League World Cup is coming to York in 2021, we’ve got world-class men’s and women’s teams staying in the city, and world-class women’s teams playing in the city.

“Our facilities and training are good enough for them so it’s clearly good enough for Super League.

“What an opportunity 2021 is to build both club and international rugby league in one hit.

“The brand of the city and the region is internationally renowned for its tourism and big events - 8.2million tourists came to York in 2019, over 7million of them from the UK.

“York is absolutely a destination and an events city, and putting the Knights in Super League would deliver more top-class events for more people to come to and experience.

“This bid fundamentally has political and commercial support in the region from strong partnerships with Welcome to Yorkshire, the City Council and York & North Yorkshire LEP (local enterprise partnership). They are all high advocates of this application.

“It will open up doors for Super League in areas Super League has been previously unable to get to because it’s never had a Super League club.

“In short, I believe absolutely, 100 per cent that the case for the growth and expansion of Super League in York is a strong one.”