Keighley Cougars chief Gary Fawcett relishes raised intensity of new format

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Captains line up at the Championship launch this week Captains line up at the Championship launch this week

Cougars chairman Gary Fawcett is expecting a more intense competition after it was announced that five teams will be relegated from the 2014 Kingstone Press Championship.

Only nine of the 14 clubs will keep their places at the end of the season as part of a new structure designed to introduce incentives and excitement into the domestic game.

For the first time for eight years, clubs will have the chance to push for promotion to Super League in 2015.

The nine survivors will be joined by the two sides relegated from Super League and the winner of a five-team play-off in Championship One.

In 2015, two divisions of 12 will split into three of eight, with the middle tier playing off to determine the make-up of Super League in 2016.

Fawcett was present as Championship clubs met with the Rugby Football League to find out more about the changes.

He said: “The RFL presented the basis of the league restructure and funding at the different levels of Super League, Championship and Championship One.

“What was very apparent was that significantly more funding would be available to the Championship division equivalent from 2015 onwards and that the way the cash will be structured to facilitate the gradual progression of an ambitious Championship club into Super League.

“I am expecting most Championship clubs to be ambitious, so this change has ratcheted up the competition levels significantly – especially given the fact that five clubs will be relegated into Championship One at the end of the season.

“This development is exciting for the sport of rugby league and the RFL has achieved what it set out to do; to create a ‘whole of game’ solution.

“Whereas the comparative riches at the top of the pyramid are much higher than in Championship and Championship One, the RFL have created a ladder to success – if a club wishes to ascend the ladder.

Keighley Cougars are one club that will do their utmost to ascend.”

With this in mind, Paul March and the Cougars players will be running a coaching session for Keighley Albion juniors (six to 16-year-olds) at University Academy Keighley on Saturday (11.30am-1pm).

“This represents the Cougars’ commitment to developing our sport in the local community and is part of our player pathway for our budding young local amateurs,” said Fawcett.

“Strategically we want our local lads developing through the pathway from Keighley Albion juniors through the Cougars Academy partnership with Craven College through our reserves and, finally, the first team.

“Every young player has the opportunity to achieve Super League level and beyond in much the same way as Keighley Cougars have now.

“The key thing for every individual and the club is to ensure this opportunity is taken.”

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