The RFL have confirmed the preferred structure of the 2021 season for the Championship and League 1, and also a new format for the 1895 Cup.
The intention is for the season to begin with the return of the Championship on the weekend of February 27-28.
The late February start will allow a 26-round campaign in the Championship, meaning each of the 14 clubs will be scheduled to play each other home and away.
This will then lead to the Play-Offs for the top six teams, and the £1M Game in October.
Full details of the league campaign will be determined early in the New Year, when a decision will also be made about whether it is practical to hold the Summer Bash in 2021.
Clubs have already agreed that games played behind closed doors will be streamed live on the RFL’s Our League platforms on a pay per view basis.
The opening Championship round will be followed by the first two rounds of the Challenge Cup on the first two weekends of March.
10 clubs from League 1 will kick off their campaigns in the First Round alongside four Championship clubs, to produce seven winners.
The remaining nine English Championship clubs in the Second Round the following week. Toulouse will not be entering either cup in 2021.
That will produce eight winners who will contest four Third Round ties two weeks later to join the 12 Super League clubs in the last 16.
Four of those teams will also qualify for the semi finals of the 1895 Cup, the competition introduced for non-Super League clubs for a chance to play at Wembley.
In 2021, the 1895 Cup semi finals are again scheduled to be played on the same weekend as the Challenge Cup semi finals in June, with the Final at Wembley on Saturday July 17.
Meanwhile, League 1 will be an 18-round competition, with each of the 10 clubs playing the other nine home and away.
It has also been agreed that the league table in each competition will be determined on a points percentage system, as with Super League in 2020, in recognition of the likelihood of Covid-19 remaining a factor.
Full details of fixtures and cup draws will come in the new year.
2021 schedule – summary
27th/28th February: Championship, Round 1
6th/7th March: Challenge Cup, Round 1
13th/14th March: Challenge Cup, Round 2
20th/21st March: League 1, Round 1
March 27-28: Challenge Cup, Round 3
9th/11th April: Challenge Cup, Round 4 (Betfred Super League clubs enter)
5th/6th June: Challenge Cup and AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Semi Finals
Saturday July 17: Challenge Cup Final and AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final (Wembley)