2012–14 Super League licences
The 2012–14 Super League licences were awarded following the second round of licensing for the Super League rugby league competition. Successful applicants were given a three-year licence to compete in Super League, the premier rugby league competition in Europe.
Applications for licences were accepted from existing Super League clubs. Clubs competing in the Co-operative Championship, the division below Super League, could apply if:
- they competed in the 2009 or 2010 Grand Finals, or won the Northern Rail Cup
- they had a stadium with a capacity of over 10,000
- they had not been insolvent at any point since 2008
- they had a turnover of at least £1 million in 2009 or 2010
- they had an average attendance of over 2500 in 2009 or 2010 
Eligible applicants from the Co-operative Championship, based on the first criterion, were: Halifax, Barrow Raiders, Featherstone Rovers, Widnes Vikings and Batley Bulldogs. Of these, only Halifax and Widnes met the second criterion; they were also the only two clubs who met the fifth criterion.
On 31 March 2011, Widnes were granted a licence for the 2012-2014 Super League seasons. Halifax had also met the requirements for a licence, but were not awarded one. Barrow had failed with their licence bid.
Talking about the progress of some clubs towards fulfilling their commitments to either upgrade their stadium facilities and move to new ones during the 2009–11 three year licence period, Gary Tasker warned of "the potential implications [of] any failure to do so may have on their next application. Clubs need to be aware that we are raising the bar for the next licence period." "Showcasing Super League in high quality stadium facilities remains a key objective," he said.
Castleford, Celtic Crusaders, Wakefield, St Helens and Salford were the focus of attention and were warned in July 2009 that their continued presence in Super League after the next round of licensing was in jeopardy. An RFL statement said, "[They] have been informed that if plans to build new stadiums or significantly improve their home venues are not sufficiently advanced by 2011, they may not satisfy the full criteria for the next period of licensing”.
Number of licences
No upper limit on the number of Super League licences awarded had initially been set by the RFL, the option remained open to expand again in the future. Increasing the number of teams in the competition without changing the competition's format would be at odds with recent RFL and Super League decisions and reports. The RFL's plan for international success, which was the result of an inquiry into England's poor performance at the 2008 World Cup, states an intention to work with clubs to limit the number of games top players can take part in. The Magic Weekend event has allowed for a reduction in the number of games each club plays to 27, from 28; although a reason for the desire to reduce games in this case was to reduce the number of times Super League sides played each other more than twice in the regular season.
RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood said, "The best performing [Championship] club will be guaranteed admission to Super League, either at the expense of the worst performing club or by expanding the competition," he said.
In July 2009, the RFL was reported to have warned Salford City Reds, Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, of which none had started construction on a new stadium, that progress must be made in order to avoid jeopardising their chances of obtaining a second Super League licence. St Helens RLFC and Celtic Crusaders (later Crusaders Rugby League) were also warned, but were reported to have a likely chance of having a new stadium by 2012. The news came just over a week after Widnes Vikings, who already had a new stadium, won their Northern Rail Cup final against Barrow Raiders; a key criterion for non-Super League clubs to obtain a first licence. Following this report, all of the named Super League teams made moves to address stadium concerns:
- Salford City originally planned to move into the new Salford City Stadium for the 2011 season, but construction delays pushed back the date to 2012.
- Castleford are also building a new stadium. It was also intended to be open for 2011, but was ultimately pushed back to 2013.
- Wakefield had plans to build a new stadium in Stanley, hoping to move in no later than the 2012 season. After the plans fell through, they announced that they would extensively renovate their existing Belle Vue ground to meet new stadium requirements.
- St Helens built a new stadium that was initially expected to open sometime in 2011, but was delayed to January 2012. They agreed to groundshare with Widnes in 2011, presumably as a hedge against construction delays.
- Crusaders (who dropped "Celtic" from their name after the 2009 season) moved to the larger Racecourse Ground in Wrexham, the largest town in North Wales (an area that did not have a professional team in either rugby code). It is also close to the M62 corridor that has been the traditional heartland of league in England.
On 4 August 2010, the RFL announced that the number of licences would remain at 14. Once Widnes were granted a licence, the RFL's decision meant that at least one existing Super League club would be left out of the competition.
The final Super League lineup for the 2012–14 period was set on 26 July 2011, when Crusaders announced that they had withdrawn their application for a licence, believing that they were not financially able to sustain themselves in Super League in the near future. The club had gone into administration after the 2010 season, This decision provided a reprieve for Wakefield Trinity, who had been expected to be denied a licence after also going into administration in the 2010–11 close season. Crusaders' former place in Super League was filled by Widnes.
A summary of licence applications was released with a grading of each club's application by the RFL on 8 September 2011. Clubs were graded as follows:
|A licence||Hull FC, Leeds Rhinos, Warrington Wolves, Wigan Warriors|
|B licence||Bradford Bulls, Catalans Dragons, Huddersfield Giants, Hull Kingston Rovers, St Helens RLFC|
|C licence||Castleford Tigers, Halifax RLFC (not awarded licence), Harlequins RL, Salford City Reds, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Widnes Vikings|
|Not graded||Barrow Raiders (did not meet criteria), Crusaders Rugby League (withdrew application)|
Using the RFL criteria, there has been an increase in the standard of Super League clubs on the previous licencing period. Wigan Warriors improved from a B to an A licence. Catalans Dragons, Hull KR and Huddersfield Giants improved from a C to a B licence. There were three additional applications, with only one not meeting minimum requirements.
The future: 2015–17 licences
Planning for the next licence period, 2015–17, began in 2009. The RFL is working with its members in Super League and the Championship to agree minimum standards in Business Management, Facilities, Finance, Commercial/Marketing/Community and Playing Strength/Performance.
Gary Tasker, the RFL's Director of Development, reiterated: "Clubs need to be aware that we are raising the bar for the next licence period and showcasing the Super League competition in high quality, 21st Century stadium facilities remains a key strategic objective."
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