Following the Rugby Football League Council Meeting in Huddersfield earlier this month, Andy Burnham, the current Mayor of Greater Manchester, has been appointed as the new RFL President, succeeding the outgoing Air Commodore Dean Andrew OBE RAF.
Burnham, whom will take over the post in July 2018, is a dedicated fan of the sport and is Honorary Vice President at Leigh Centurions. Prior to his election to the post of Mayor of Greater Manchester in May 2017, Andy was a Labour MP for Leigh from 2001. And, whilst in government, Andy held Ministerial positions in the Home Office, the Department of Health and the Treasury. In 2008, Burnham became Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, before once more returning to the Department for Health as Secretary of State in 2009.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham spoke of his joy at being given the opportunity to develop Rugby League throughout the country: “Being asked to represent the proud sport of Rugby League is one of the greatest honours I’ve ever been given.
“Over the years, my love of the game has grown and grown – as a sometime player, a touchline dad and an avid supporter of Leigh Centurions. At a time when other sports have become more detached from their communities, rugby league remains rooted in theirs and that community spirit is its great strength.
“Greater Manchester is one of the sport’s greatest heartlands. We have six famous clubs and a grassroots and club structure that is strong. I see it as an important part of my role as Mayor of Greater Manchester to develop the game here and further afield.
“I believe Rugby League has huge untapped potential. It is a fantastic sport that builds teamwork, promotes strength of character and brings communities together. This passion needs to be nurtured if we are to develop this great game from grassroots upwards and encourage more people, particularly our younger generation, to get involved.
“I will seek to use my time in the privileged position of President to raise the profile of the sport in any way I can.”