Toronto Wolfpack's Super League expulsion will be regarded as a 'betrayal'

SUPER League has been accused of a ‘betrayal’ that saw Toronto Wolfpack voted out of the competition.

And boss Robert Elstone just did not appear interested in having the game in Canada, according to one high ranking official.

The Wolfpack’s bid to be readmitted to the top flight for 2021 after withdrawing from the 2020 season was voted down 8-4 with one abstention.

Since then, the fur has been flying with claims of ‘flaky’ proposals by prospective owner Carlo LiVolsi, ‘aggressive’ revenue predictions and a report that deemed there frankly was no point in chasing expansion there.

But the boss of Canada’s rugby league, Bob Jowett, has hit out, saying fans will not forget this snub in a hurry and claims Elstone just did not seem that bothered.

The CRLA president told SunSport: “The Canadian view appears to be that this is a betrayal that won’t be quickly forgotten or forgiven.

“I find it astonishing that those of us involved in developing community rugby league in Canada were not contacted by anyone from Super League for our opinions about the Wolfpack.

“I personally attended the November 2018 international congress in York. Also in attendance was Robert Elstone.

“I raised concerns regarding the behaviour of the Toronto Wolfpack with many delegates at the congress. However, Mr Elstone did not seek any information with regard to either the status of community rugby league in Canada or relations between the CRLA and the Toronto Wolfpack at that time.

“At the congress, delegates from other nations made it very clear to me that, despite the issues with the Toronto Wolfpack, they would welcome the publicity.

“This suggests to me the implications of the Wolfpack rejection will have repercussions beyond Canada and the UK.”

Toronto’s operation was far from perfect before owner David Argyle said he could not afford to run them for the rest of the year because of issues brought to a head by the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the man who often had run-ins with the money man, often over his funding going to kids playing rugby union, insists things were growing.

Mr Jowett added: “There has been a tremendous amount of ‘fake news’ about the Wolfpack from day one.

“It is undoubtedly true that in year one they gave out a lot of free tickets, I wouldn’t be surprised if 90 per cent of year one attendees had free tickets.

“But the number of complimentary tickets diminished as crowds grew.  The Wolfpack started to limit free tickets to 'superfans' and community groups who would introduce new fans to the sport – those new fans often came back and bought tickets.

“The Wolfpack made close to ideal use of free tickets. At the end of last season, free tickets were becoming very hard to come by – groups who historically could count on free ticket allocation found those numbers drastically reduced.

“If the Wolfpack had played home Super League games this year they would have been in a position to fill Lamport Stadium with no free tickets.

“It should also not be forgotten that even those who received free tickets contributed through beer and food sales.

“Now if the Wolfpack return to Championship or League One then I believe the bulk of fans will stay with the team.

“If this happens I’m not sure how much appetite there will be for a quick return to Super League.

“But if they go completely then there’s a real risk that rugby league will lose most if not all the support the Wolfpack generated.

“Unfortunately, it is likely that in years to come it will once again be said that rugby league never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

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