Any potential ‘club city franchise’ move in rugby league has been described as ‘ridiculous’ by Sheffield Eagles director Mark Aston.
Reports suggest that the RFL would consider Super League clubs moving to a different city, in light of Wakefield’s struggle to come to an agreement on a purpose-built stadium in the area.
If the RFL were serious, and would consider the possibility lower down, the Eagles are in a similar situation to their landlords during their impasse on a new home in the city.
It’s just a theory at this stage, but Aston has warned that it is an idea that should never come to pass.
“It is bullsh**t,” the straight talking Eagles chief says.
“Why would you support a team moving permanently out of their home city, where they have a history and a tradition, to then move into a completely new city?
“Why would any club want to move away from the place where it has its roots, where all its history and tradition lies? We have a great game but with things like this we run the risk of losing that mentality. I have never heard of anything so ridiculous.”
In rugby union Wasps’ move from their traditional London base to Coventry was rubber stamped, whilst in rugby league the Eagles unsuccessfully merged with Huddersfield.
After seeing Eagles fall foul of a merger in the past, Aston is keen on clubs remaining in their heartlands. With the recent introduction of Toronto Wolfpack into the structure, the 49-year-old would like to see the authorities help clubs in the lower leagues strengthen their position, before increasing interest outside of the traditional areas.
“At the moment the bigger get bigger, and the smaller get smaller - we are running the risk of ruining the game,” he added. “We’re not investing in areas to develop, we’re expecting clubs to develop themselves, but smaller clubs have no resource.”
Aston asked: “How can we develop? We have wasted enough money putting the game into different areas. We need to remember the clubs that are already here.”
Eagles return to league action on Sunday as they look to end a run of five straight defeats at fellow strugglers Swinton Lions.