Despite their disappointment at the Super League announcement, Barrow and Halifax must now look to the future as they seek elevation to the top flight.
With confirmation that they have satisfied the criteria for Super League, Halifax will go in amongst the existing 14 Super League clubs for the remaining 13 places in the top flight in July, although an expansion of the division hasn’t ruled out.
It means that if Halifax’s bid is considered to be superior to more than one of the 14 current clubs, they will join Widnes in stepping up to the big table in 2012.
The Halifax board of directors released a statement that said: “Although disappointed, the Club’s Application remains ‘live’, except that it will now be considered alongside the imminent applications by the 14 existing Super League Clubs, for the remaining 13 places in Super League. Therefore we would wish to create a rallying call to the fans of Halifax RLFC, and the local public, to keep faith in the bid and to continue to back it.
“As a Club we do not give up when we seem to be down, as our 2010 Grand Final success shows. We were all but down and out, but never gave up, came back from the brink, and prevailed against all the odds. We will strive to repeat this on field achievement in the coming months off the field.”
Wakefield are the favourites of many to be displaced, but there remains question marks over the future of Crusaders, following their financial trouble in the past couple of years, while Salford and Castleford will continue to look over their shoulders. Harlequins are surely not home and dry, owing to their disappointing attendances, and you feel there may still be another twist in this tale.
Halifax must sit tight and wait and see if they can prove themselves to be stronger than two Super League clubs come July.
For Barrow, news that they failed to satisfy the criteria didn’t come as a shock, but their considerable climb in recent years should not be underestimated.
After analysing this disappointment, much like Widnes did in 2008, the Raiders have a huge opportunity to put themselves at the front of the queue for the next time the RFL looks for a Championship team to make the step up, in 2015.
Steve O’Connor and his Vikings organisation have followed the blueprint for licensing by the book, and it is this commitment and discipline which will reward Des Johnston and his Raiders if they follow suit.
Super League is crying out for a Cumbrian presence, but only when a club is ready. At the moment, no clubs in the region are ready, and it is up to the Raiders to change that.
By investing in their facilities and youth programme, as well as maintaining a steady level on the field, the Raiders could make themselves a shoo-in for 2015, much like Widnes did this time round. They made it impossible for the RFL to say no, and that is the blueprint that any aspiring Super League club needs to follow for the next round of applications.