WE are just a week away from Super League XX which, with its new fixture format, is being billed as the dawning of a new era – and at the top end you can certainly taste the anticipation.

For once the words being trotted out from the press office about ‘every game counting’ is not simply spin doctored lines to sell more satellite dishes – the battle for top eight and top four within that will ensure that every game, try and drop goal could be decisive.

So if you are Saints, Wigan, Leeds or Warrington fan you can see that licking of lips.

However, the feeling among those clubs who have a good chance of finishing outside the top eight is probably tinged with a degree of trepidation.

Dress it up how you want, but followers of teams finishing in places 9-12 at the end of 23 rounds in July may treat dropping into the middle eight as relegation.

But the group that concerns me most are Championship sides who can see the juicy carrot of Super League dangling tantalisingly in front of them – an opportunity that has been closed to them under the licensing process.

For me, there is a touch of a mirage about the incentives being offered to the likes of Leigh and Featherstone as they vie with relegated Bradford and London to challenge for a place in the following year’s starting 12.

Clubs are certainly throwing money about – and it does raise a spectre of times past when we have had the same process, but I hope my fears are unfounded.

Karl Marx’s line that “History repeats itself first as tragedy then as farce” could be directed at clubs chasing the pot of Super League gold at the end of the rainbow by signing big name veterans and then going belly up.

The temptation to throw money at players who have become available since the cutting of two top flight teams is understandable. But clubs have to be so careful.

Hopefully they won't go belly up again and they will be rewarded with competitive sides and healthy gates.

And it is fingers crossed because the effect of teams struggling in the middle eight will not be isolated there, it would contaminate the whole 3x8 concept and if that broke down it would necessitate yet another look at the league system.

And of course that would be the last thing fans across the board will want to contemplate because if there’s one thing that turns off fans more it is tinkering with the bread and butter league format.

There are probably some folk in Yorkshire still wailing about ‘going back to one big division’.