EURO XIII organiser Dean Buchan has hit back at the Rugby League European Federation for issuing a statement which he says wrongly accuses the proposed new competition of acting in a deceptive manner.
Buchan, who runs the Valencia Huracanes club in Spain, also responded to Serbia banning its clubs from taking part in his proposed pan-European competition by suggesting the move was politically motivated.
Euro XIII plans a 16-team league for existing clubs starting in 2022; the Rugby League European Federation is working on a Super League involving big city franchises for 2023, which Buchan says his club was invited last year to join.
“We believe that we have documents that illustrate that over the period of six months we have had a spirit of collaboration with the RLEF and its board members,” Buchan told rugbyleaguehub.com.
“That’s not a rebellious movement.
“…which makes (the RLEF’s) announcement quite disappointing because its not factual.
“It didn’t suggest, it outright said that there had been no contact which is 100 per cent false
“It also said they had no prior notice we were speaking to nations and clubs. I have documents that show board members thanking me for having spoken to nations and having clarified that this was a separate vision from the RLEF’s.”
Bachan said the RLEF’s constitution gave it providence of international teams but not clubs and expressed alarm at reports Serbia had banned its teams from taking part in the Euro XIIIs.
“I’ve seen the comments in Serbia and it’s not a surprise that there’s a board member who has a club in Serbia and now Serbia is essentially banning its clubs from entering this competition,” he said, in reference to Colin Kleyweg who is the owner of Red Star Belgrade and sits on the RLEF board.
“You’re already seeing actual threats of sanctions. Do you think that threat of sanction is just randomly brought about by Serbia thinking it up?”
Buchan said the organisation would continue to seek collaboration with the RLEF – but not at the expense of Euro XIII kicking off.
“I suppose the question is: what is the objective here? Is it to stop a competition that’s ready to go because you don’t have one? You have the idea of one. Or is it to try and develop European rugby league?
“The European Super League will not work at the moment and you’d probably be aware of the reasons why. In lots of European countries, rugby league doesn’t feature on the map. Look at the attendance, look at the participation.
“If you suddenly jump up with 10, 20 clubs, you’re not suddenly going to be able to support a massive competition with huge infrastructure and costs that the working group is talking about.”
The Englishman added that both concepts involved private funding, despite the Euro 13s being characterised in the RLEF media release as “privately owned”.
“I’ve seen all the documentation, I’ve seen all the tender proposals, it isn’t going to work,” he said of the RLEF concept.
“It could work in five or 10 years but first of all, what we need to do is we need to develop the European game and that means develop the domestic leagues, develop participation, develop the player pathways.
“The Huracanes were courted for that competition, for the Super League, and we are yet to see any version of anything where they’ve delivered.
“We have got a competition and we’ve gone to the RLEF and we have said ‘hey, be part of it, this is going to be great’.
“Do they actually have signed contracts, do they have investment in place, do they have a broadcast deal? And if they do, why does no-one in Europe know anything about it?”