How did we decide that 12 was the magic number of Super League teams? And on what basis will that number be expanded once the franchise system comes on line?

We are just over a year away, but I hate the F word already - it reminds me of rival burger vendors competing for the tender to hold a stall at the entrance of Sherdley Show.

But it appears that there are not that many top flight supporters in favour of the promotion and relegation system and will therefore be happy to shut the trapdoor on those that get left out in a year or so.

In some respects I can see the imperfections - Salford are down for the second time in five years - and that has meant that their core of talented players has been picked up by all and sundry in Super League. Cas endured the same trauma last year.

The Reds will have to start again from scratch, although they will find it easier to get out of the division given the demise of Widnes, who are now paying the price of not making the cut in the NL1 Grand Final.

It means that there will be a heavy Yorkshire bias in Super League XIII, with only two Lancashire sides keeping Saints company.

The next few months will see all kinds of debate about the future format of Super League, but I can predict a recurring theme. There will be howls from the heartlands if a Welsh team or Toulouse are included at the expense of either Widnes, Salford, Oldham, Cumbria and/or Halifax. There is always going to be a team on the cusp of selection (just like there was in 1995/6 when Keighley were carved out) and their failure to make the cut will see them recoil and wither away.

One way of maximising our spread to aspirational teams within or outside the traditional areas is to expand to a 14 or 15-team Super League, which would ensure a straightforward league system where teams play each other once both home and away.

It was do away with the extra fixtures that unquestionably artificially skew the league placings.

Some Saints fans suggest that there are already too many run of the mill' fixtures in the division and groan when we have to play say Harlequins or Wakefield, but both of those sides beat them this year.

Although most fans wish to be playing Leeds, Bradford and Wigan every week, you can have too much of a good thing before it begins to be devalued. That theory was tested sorely this year with a ludicrous number of games against Wigan. If I had listened a bit more keenly to my economics teacher, I think I could confidently claim that that is the law of diminishing returns.' But I was probably day dreaming about taking an inside pass off Harry Pinner at the time.

If we cut the league to eight, somebody would still finish bottom every year - and would the games be that much better?

If we moved up to the old system of 16, which existed prior to Super League from 1973, there would be a flood of arguments about diluting the quality and bringing in even more meaningless games.

But how do we know it would necessarily dilute quality, particularly in the long term? Or does carving up the monetary cake into more than 12 pieces automatically bring an inferior product?

The argument we hear is that there are not enough quality players to expand. How do we know that for sure?

There are thousands of young potential players up and down the country, who slip through the net each year because they just don't get picked up in time. Or they are cut at 21 because they are not quite good enough to secure a contract with the club that has nurtured them. If players have nowhere to go and ply their trade, they cease to be players.

There are probably others, who are cut even earlier because they are not quite big or quick enough to satisfy a particular club's demands and just drift away. Players need the clubs to continue to bring them on - but the same handful of clubs can't develop them all.

As long as clubs could satisfy the criteria on marketing, facilities, playing quality and crowd potential I could even live with a Super League of 15 - comprising the current 12, plus three from Salford, Widnes, Cumbria, Halifax, Oldham and Celtic Crusaders. That is before we even think about Toulouse.

Furthermore, the longer clubs like say Leigh, Halifax and Oldham are out of the top flight, then the more that will curb the interest at grass roots in those towns and stop young players taking up our game in those places.

The more our top flight is limited, the greater the idea that players are a scarce resource becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.What do you think?