AS many in rugby league will know, there is something of a power struggle occurring.

Robert Elstone has joined Super League Europe with what seems a mandate to look after only those clubs, with the backing of leading chairman.

On the back of falling crowds and viewing figures, there is a real fear at the top that the next television deal will be a lot smaller in 2021. I’ve discussed this personally with Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan and he sees the RFL as a failing organisation which has failed to promote a wonderful product on the pitch. I have some sympathy with that and cringe sometimes at the RFL’s lack of marketing.

This has all the hallmarks of the Premier League’s breakaway from the Football League in 1992. The threat from SLE is if we don’t get an agreement from the clubs then there may well be the split.

SLE has put a number of change proposals on the table. They don’t like the Eights; they cite the fact that they don’t know their final seven fixtures until August as making it very difficult to promote the games and sell sponsorship.

I tend to agree with this. Barrow is in the same boat, but this is compounded by the need to keep the Eights competitive given huge disparities in funding between Championship teams.

SLE wants to return to automatic one up, one down. Again, I have no issue with this, but the Championship clubs are fighting for two up, two down with the second place decided by play-offs involving the 11th-placed Super League team.

SLE also proposed that the Championship reverts to 14 teams and a five-team play-off. Again, no issue from me, and if they brought in a level playing field with regards to funding then I think it could give Barrow a great chance of progression.

So, why the power struggle? Well, it all relates back to the second paragraph. If the TV deal goes down then the funding distribution to the Championship clubs isn’t guaranteed. Basically, it is the RFL and lower league clubs that would take the first hit. SLE now have administrative self-sufficiency and there is a real fear that our funding will totally disappear.

If SLE can put pro-rata funding on the table then they probably get our vote. Until then, we need to protect the semi-professional game. In most cases, it is only through luck of being in the right place at the right time that the present teams are there.

If, in 2009, there was the same rules in place as being proposed – one up, one down with unlimited spending restrictions – then it could well have been Barrow in the top flight.