A LONDON barrister has been appointed to spearhead a legal challenge to the proposed u80 million rugby Super League.

Jonathan Crystal, a specialist in sport and defamation, is acting for West Yorkshire rugby league side Keighley in its bid to oppose the plan.

The new elite league will feature 14 of the sport's top clubs.

Keighley, which is currently in the second division but in line for promotion, has not been invited to join.

The club is claiming that the new rugby set-up – an attempt to emulate the success of soccer's premier league – is unconstitutional because it was voted on by club chairmen rather than the Rugby League Council.

The move highlights the burgeoning business of sport litigation. An increased volume of legal work has developed because all sports have become more business-like.

Crystal, a former board member at Tottenham Hotspur soccer club, says: “This is an interesting and rapidly growing area of the law.”

His past clients include ex-QPR player Danny Thomas, Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall and former Everton manager Mike Walker.