BRADFORD Bulls coach John Kear is fearful for the future of rugby league in this country if proposed changes go through for the 2019 season.

The Super League announced at the unveiling of new chief executive Robert Elstone that the Super 8s, which also involve clubs from the Championship, will be scrapped after the end of this campaign, with promotion and relegation retained but most likely in a more traditional one-up, one-down format.

The top two divisions have been split into three tiers of eight clubs in August since 2015, with the middle eights figuring in qualifiers for the final four places in Super League for the following year.

A statement from RFL chairman Brian Barwick and interim chief executive officer Ralph Rimmer insisted discussions are still ongoing, with no binding decision having been made regarding future competition structure.

The experienced Kear, whose Bulls team could be part of any proposed new process next season, said: “I cannot see how it is legal what Super League have done in deciding on the format.

“There used to be a holistic approach to the game at professional level, and there was a pathway for clubs in the Championship and League One.

“The whole mantra of the Super 8s was that every minute matters, but now it has become obvious that every minute does not matter.

“What is likely to happen is that the top five will be up there in Super League and then there will be positions six to ten.”

Leeds Rhinos were believed to be the only Super League club to protest about the change, with their chief executive Gary Hetherington calling it “an absurd grab for power for the game by a small group of men who think they own the game”.

Hetherington has had support from a number of Championship and League One clubs with Batley and Featherstone chairmen voicing strong opposition to Super League’s plan.

Meanwhile, Wigan Warriors’ owner Ian Lenaghan said: “We are committed to promotion and relegation.

“It’s not going to be four clubs in jeopardy any more – but one being promoted and relegated.”

Rimmer and Barwick’s joint statement on behalf of the RFL read: “The Rugby Football League has been in discussions with representatives of the Super League since the turn of the year.

“We have been in regular and broadly constructive meetings with them and Championship and League One clubs about potential changes that could strengthen our sport going forward.

“We would like to make clear that these discussions are still ongoing.

"No binding decisions have been made across a range of issues, including competition structure, but progress is being made.

"Further meetings are expected to take place between all parties in due course."

Elstone had said earlier in the week: "We have looked at a competitive structure that really isn't working: effectively it provides too much uncertainty.

"The job starts with building a positive working relationship with the Rugby Football League, and that's recognising Super League's responsibilities to the wider game too."