West Wales Raiders withdraw from League 1

West Wales Raiders withdraw from League 1

League 1 will be played as a 10-team competition in 2023 after West Wales Raiders announced their withdrawal.

The Raiders have won just two of their 86 league games since entering the competition in 2018, taking the place of the South Wales Ironmen.

Their history can be traced back to the founding of the South Wales Scorpions, formed in 2010 when the ancient Celtic Crusaders moved from Bridgend to Wrexham.

The highlight of the Raiders era came when Welsh rugby union legend Gavin Henson featured alongside Rangi Chase for West Wales in a BBC televised Challenge Cup clash against Widnes.

A club statement said: “It is with great sadness that we write this but the West Wales Raiders will not compete in the RFL professional league in the 2023 season.

“The club informed the RFL on Wednesday that it will not take part in either competition this season.

“After 5 seasons in the professional ranks both Andrew and Peter felt it was the right time to give someone else the opportunity to try and take over the club within the sport. Numerous parties have expressed interest but most have fallen when they realize the amount of personal finance and time required to run a League 1 club.

“The owners will continue to support the RFL & WRL in finding a new group to maintain a professional club in Wales, especially after all the great work WRL has done in the community over the last 12 months.”

In 2015 the third tier had 14 teams but in recent years the Oxford, Gloucestershire All Golds and Hemel Stags have all departed.

Reactions from across the league

Other League 1 clubs have reacted to the news.

Hunslet chairman Kenny Sykes said: “Obviously this is sad news. My first thoughts are with the players, staff, fans and the Board of West Wales. I have witnessed the closure of a club first hand and it is a worrying time for all involved.

“It’s fair to say West Wales have struggled on the pitch for a number of years and that makes it difficult to build a supporter base. However, that doesn’t take away from the hard work put in by those in charge of the club season after season. We wish them all the best for the future.

“That means two games less for Hunslet next season and we will assess what that means from a playing and financial perspective over the next week. We will issue an update early in the new year.”

It has already been decided that the fixture schedule will remain unchanged, only with West Wales withdrawing – meaning clubs have two extra free weekends on the calendar.

With an odd number of teams previously, clubs already had two weekends off, but it was felt that changing the schedule at this point would be too influential.

An RFL statement added: “The introduction of loop games to avoid empty weekends was considered, but with a full 22-round fixture list already announced, it was felt that it would be too disruptive recreate the schedule list.

“It was also felt that the introduction of looping games could benefit some clubs while hurting promotion prospects for others, with the best team in the table securing automatic promotion.”

West Wales’ withdrawal is affecting season ticket offerings from other clubs as they are now all losing a home game.

Doncaster have already confirmed that there will be no discounts due to the current low price levels.

A Workington statement said: “The news of the withdrawal is of course sad to hear. Our thoughts are with the board, players and supporters of the West Wales club.

“The city council will now digest all the implications and discuss the Christmas holidays. We will then communicate with our fans in the new year.”

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