Future uncertain for rugby league
Rugby league is on the brink of civil war after Super League clubs got together to force the game's governing body to climb down over plans for a major re-structuring.
The Rugby Football League had called an extraordinary general meeting for Wednesday which was expected to finalise arrangements for a new league comprising two divisions of 12 teams, a scrapping of the licensing system and the restoration of automatic promotion and relegation from 2015.
However, a revolt led by Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan prompted the RFL to postpone the EGM, due to be held in Leeds, at least until after the World Cup, which runs until the end of November.
A statement issued by the RFL said: "A majority of Super League clubs have indicated an interest in further consultation on the detail of the proposals in order to reach the best solution.
"These discussions will continue to positively progress but all parties involved are unanimous in their belief that the key focus for rugby league at this moment is staging a successful Rugby League World Cup 2013 and this should be the focus of the sport."
The unexpected turn of events followed a meeting of Super League clubs in Huddersfield on Monday called by Lenagan, who is concerned that the plans would weaken the financial position of Super League clubs in comparison to those in the Championship, who would receive more central funding under the reorganisation.
It is effectively a vote of no confidence in the governing body and a blow to the credibility of RFL chief executive Nigel Wood, who was the driving force behind the policy review.
It also threatens to undermine the efforts of former RFL chairman Richard Lewis, who worked to unite all the different factions under an independent board of directors.
In a letter to clubs, reported by the League Weekly newspaper, Lenagan claimed the policy review highlighted "the relative unimportance of the Super League clubs" but stopped short of calling for a breakaway.
"This is not in any way a proposal to make Super League fully independent ... nor to take over at this time full control of the Super League board," he wrote.
However, Michael Steele, the chairman of Championship club Halifax, said the RFL proposals represented "the best solution" to the game's current problems and a failure to implement them would have dire consequences.
"If they vote to maintain the status quo, I think it is the death knell for large parts of the game outside Super League and eventually for Super League itself," Steele told the Halifax Courier.
"I cannot see a future for licensing; something has to be done to revitalise the game at all levels."