Whitehaven have made light work of their points deduction as they look to make an immediate return to the Championship, but is their punishment a little harsh?
After a stuttering start to the Northern Rail Cup, a defeat by Workington, was partly saved by a draw at Sheffield and a win over Oldham, Whitehaven have won three out of three in the league to wipe out their nine point deduction, and move themselves off the bottom of the table.
Wins over Rochdale (30-22), South Wales (22-18) and Keighley (24-10) see David Seeds’ side leapfrog Gateshead and London in to 8th place, already just one place and three points off the play-off places, with 15 games to play.
Rarely does a Championship season start these days without a team on minus points – Doncaster, Keighley, Swinton, Rochdale and Widnes have all been dealt with that handicap for various financial misdemeanours.
Yet this close season, it was the first time that a Super League side had entered administration. Firstly, Crusaders, for reasons which we were led to believe were a hangover from their days in Bridgend, and then Wakefield, who shortly after the beginning of the season entered administration before quickly finding new owners.
The two Super League teams were handed four points deductions. Next to this, the penalty for financial problems in the Championships seems grossly unfair, and yet another reason why Championship fans feel like poorer cousins of the top flight.
Of course the points systems are different (3 points for a win in Championships plus the bonus point system, 2 in Super League – that’s another blog in itself), but even taking that into consideration, Whitehaven’s punishment is still unfair.
Their 9 point deduction comes in an 18 game league season. 9 points equals 3 wins, which means that Whitehaven have to play a sixth of their season perfectly (as they have done) before earning themselves positive points.
In Super League, a 4 point deduction relates to 2 games in a 27 game season – which at best is one-thirteenth of the league season.
Championship fans were under the impression that the stated punishment in the rulebook was a point deduction worth three victories – that of course went out the window when Crusaders were handed their -4 points, but even a six point deduction in 27-game Super League wouldn’t stack up against a -9 deduction in the 18 game Championship 1 (or 20 game Championship).
For those of you who read my blog last week on rugby league posing more questions than answers – there’s another one for you. Why?