KARL Fitzpatrick has highlighted why Warrington Wolves fans should feel pleased with today’s Rugby Football League vote outcome.

A secret ballot, with The Wire voting in favour of the proposal, resulted in 68 percent backing the move to scrap the Super 8s, introduce a top-five play-offs system and bring in ‘one-up, one-down’ automatic relegation in 2019.

READ: Top-five play-offs explained and more on today's RFL vote

The scrapping of the Super 8s means 23 home and away fixtures, the Magic Weekend round, plus six additional loop matches will all be known before next year’s campaign starts, in contrast to Super 8s fixtures only being scheduled in August and September at the end of July.

“I think it’s not only a positive decision for Super League but for the game as a whole,” said the Warrington Wolves chief executive as he left the extraordinary general meeting of the RFL Council in Manchester.

“I genuinely believe if we get a strong product at the top of the chain, a by-product of that is a stronger Championship and a stronger League One.

“I think it’s really positive for supporters that we will know at the beginning of the season who we’ll be playing throughout the season.

“The issues of not knowing who we’re playing throughout August and September had a negative commercial impact on the business across many aspects – general admission, matchday sponsors, hospitality guests.

“Now we’ll be in a really strong position of knowing who we’ll be playing and supporters and sponsors can plan for that accordingly.

“Also, I’m a real big believer in the top five play-off system which we’ve now moved to for next year.

“I believe fans get really excited about heading into the play-offs.

“I believe with the current format it’s over too quickly, it’s basically one semi final and into a Grand Final.

“Moving to a top-five, it’s a four week play-offs that supporters can get really excited about and hopefully drive up viewing figures.

“It’s also really important where we finish in that top five.

“In the current top-four play-offs, first and second are at home which gives an advantage but there’s no real other advantage of where you finish in the top four.

“In the top-five system, there’s many advantages to finishing first and the advantages decrease from second to fifth.”


It is a system Super League has embraced in the past.

“I think the reason why we moved away from the top-five play-offs system originally was there was an increase in the amount of teams in Super League,” said Fitzpatrick.

“There’s been some research done in what has been the most successful play-offs system in terms of attendances and viewing figures, and it came back that it was the top five.

“In terms of the promotion and relegation, this was something that was driven by the RFL. They were keen that there was a pathway into Super League and I think that’s the right decision.

“It’s important there is some form of jeopardy. If you are not up to performing at elite level, well you lose your right to be in Super League.”