Figures that meant the end for Toronto Wolfpack in Super League laid out

TORONTO were no better than other Super League sides when it comes to bringing in off-field income.

And the highest forecast TV revenue would still have been SEVEN TIMES smaller than that of what rugby union pockets from rights in Canada.

Prospective owner Carlo LiVolsi took their first submission to stay in Super League off the table himself after seeing it as it was ‘sub-standard.’

But sources have told SunSport the second, which saw them voted out of the top flight, had no marked differences, other than input from a firm of accountants.

Projected income figures were based on a male grooming range that has not even been launched yet and after spending 2021 in England, would have required playing for two straight seasons in front of complete sell-out crowds, with everyone paying, plus a further £1 million investment, to be met.

And seeing him conduct the crucial presentation from his car – which Toronto insiders claim was because of not learning of the timing of the meeting until late on – did not make a good impression with those with their future in their hands.

Toronto were voted out of Super League by eight votes to four with one abstention, causing great upset among a fan base that saw crowds of up to 12,000 attend matches.

One of the main issues is a report compiled by Super League, with additional input from Rugby Football League chairman Simon Johnson, Andy Anson and Matthew Wheeler, into whether rugby league can succeed in Canada.

Now SunSport can reveal some of its findings, including the conclusions of media experts Nielsen that convinced them it is better off looking elsewhere.

The loss of the much talked about TV market in North America was highlighted as a reason why they should stay.

However, that only brought in between $7,500 and $10,000 a year, rising to $15,000 for 2020 and projections were not rosy, with expert advice saying it is unlikely that would have gone above $30,000.

In comparison, rugby union’s Six Nations brings in $150,000 a year and the Gallagher Premiership, Pro 14 and other 15-a-side competitions another $40,000-$80,000.

Indeed, they were told Super League would not generate a significant uplift for the foreseeable future and they would get better returns with further expansion in France or areas of the UK outside the sport’s heartlands.

A look into the sponsorship market painted an equally gloomy picture, with Super League unlikely to attract major transatlantic deals off the back of them.

The fact the NFL has not been able to set up a team in London, despite decades of trying, was also pointed out and Canada is not on International Rugby League’s list of development areas.

The findings also determined the Wolfpack did not ‘outperform’ other Super League clubs in their equivalent UK markets. All that convinced Super League there was no medium-term gain from having them.

Toronto claim they only budgeted for SIX games with crowds of 1,000 people to be played in the UK in their failed bid and the fact LiVolsi did not provide proof of funding was NEVER mentioned as a problem.

However, Super League sources insist they were ‘professional, fair and reasonable’ throughout and the Wolfpack had three months do the work, yet still fell ‘way short’ of the standards they wanted.

It is understood there was little, if any, supporting work done into the viability of rugby league in Canada and at no point did they offer any information that contradicted the report.

In fact, LiVolsi – who proposed a two-point penalty for their withdrawal – rejected the whole concept of relegation, saying he disagreed with it.

He also did not provide a commitment to stay with them if they went down.

Now Toronto have been voted out, players and staff – including Sonny Bill Williams – must chase David Argyle for six or seven months of unpaid wages.

And Gareth O’Brien has called on the Rugby Football League to support them, while Ricky Leutele believes the market in North America is there.

O’Brien, on loan at Castleford said, after revealing they only found out the news on Twitter: “I hope with how much the sport harps on about player welfare something is done to support the staff and players.

“In my opinion, though, not much has gone into the effect this will have on them.”

Samoan centre Leutele, who had to move to Melbourne Storm as Toronto did not pay the rent on his Manchester property and his UK visa ran out, can still see rugby league in Canada catching on.

Despite describing the Wolfpack’s fate as ‘absolutely s*** news,’ he said: “Hopefully one day there will be a North American competition because the market and potential is definitely there.”

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