Derek Beaumont to leave Leigh Centurions

As reported in League Express, Derek Beaumont has confirmed that he will leave Leigh Centurions at the end of the season while insisting that he will leave the club in the best position possible, both financially and in terms of its playing resources.

Here is his statement in full:

I won’t be at the game today or the Barrow game; not by choice but because I am away on holiday. I was very nervous about attending the Sheffield game after the emotional week of realising we wouldn’t make the four and having to dismantle what had taken five years and seven figures of time, money and effort. I don’t use or look at social media these days which has been a massive improvement to my life but I could imagine that it was pretty volatile after my short statement and I was nervous of attending with my family and there being any kinds of scenes like I experienced at the Toulouse game earlier in the year.

I needn’t have been nervous as the fans were absolutely fantastic to the boys with the way they welcomed them onto the field and stayed right behind them even when we went two scores down to a spirited Sheffield side that smelled blood. It would have been easy for the lads to chuck up some white flags at that point given the week they had had, especially given we had a couple of debutants in there, but to the contrary they fought on gallantly to a much deserved win. It felt surreal and somewhat hollow but it was all that any of us could really achieve that day and they answered my challenge to finish the regular season with a win to set the platform to win the Shield at the end of the season.

Losing the Million Pound Game in October and dealing with the aftermath of that, seeing people’s contracts terminated, was one of, if not the hardest, thing I have had to do. This is much harder than that as the emotion of doing this whilst realising that everything had been in vain took its toll. I would like to thank the players and staff that have torn up their contracts and moved on, some at their own expense and one individual in particular who has torn up a three-year contract and gone with nothing to go to in order to enable the Club to have a chance to survive in the short term. I would also like to thank the backroom staff who have collectively agreed to pool the resources and all stay on to the end of the fight before also walking away to enable the Club to have a chance of survival. It is a mark of their respect for me as a person and what I have tried to do and invested into the Club and the community and I feel so sorry for these guys as ultimately it isn’t their lack of effort that has seen this happen to them.

I was hoping to have conducted enough player movement before the transfer deadline to have ensured the short term future of the Club was safe without any additional funding from me as I wasn’t comfortable putting money into something that had no future. Unfortunately I was unable to achieve that fully although I am committed to ensuring the Club can fulfil its last fixtures of the season; however, this will unfortunately accumulate more losses within that period that will now worsen the Club’s position. It was important to me to maintain a squad that could compete to win the Shield but I am disappointed that a small number of players asked to move on didn’t do so and take alternatives presented to them which would have ensured the short term future of the Club without increasing liabilities. What is vitally important is that we can get the remaining players who are contracted beyond this year to find alternative clubs and accept some responsibility for the failings on the field in order that the Club isn’t left with liabilities it cannot fulfil which ultimately would be catastrophic.

If this happens then the Club will not be in danger and will be able to re-structure a part-time squad based on the new level of central funding and income it can generate with no further involvement from me. I hope when the season is over this is achieved so that the Club is in a better position than when I had to write personal cheques to all the players part way through the season when the Club couldn’t pay them and was facing a winding up petition from HMRC. Ultimately that will be decided by the players who have contracts as to what they choose to do but the harsh reality is that if they attempt to stay then the Club won’t be able to survive and then they would have to go anyway so I am confident common sense will prevail and the Club’s history and place in the community will be respected. Should the worse happen and the contractual liabilities force the Club into liquidation then I give my word I will ensure that a community Club is formed and give it a cash injection to ensure it can operate and establish itself going forward with no liabilities and no involvement from me whatsoever.

I haven’t made a further statement which I had initially intended to do as I don’t think it is appropriate yet given what I have to say so I will keep it in reserve until everything has been resolved. However, I do think it is necessary to respond to two comments I saw in last week’s trade press. The first of those were Ralph Rimmer’s comments in response to comments from Ian Lenagan in the League Weekly. Ian was very respectful to our Club in his comments for which I thank him. He was pointing to our plight as evidence that the current structure doesn’t work. Ralph responded that it was down to the fact that clubs are “locally managed” that is more the issue. Well given Ralph is an intelligent man I would like to know what he would have done managing our Club “locally” in this structure.

You see we were given £750k central funding and a parachute payment of £500k which was strictly on the terms that we spent the full £1.25M of central funding on players’ contracts to remain strong and have a squad to challenge to return to Super League. So how do you therefore comply with that stipulation but at the same time protect your business in case you don’t make the top four and lose another £1M of funding Ralph?

The obvious answer would be only sign one year deals so if it doesn’t work out you are free from contracts but you wouldn’t be able to compete for signatures offering one year deals and therefore wouldn’t have a strong squad nor spend the £1.25M. That suggestion is like saying that all Super League clubs should only commit to £750k despite getting £1.8M potentially so that if they get relegated they aren’t at risk of administration.

This doesn’t happen but the sport recognises this and has a clause in the playing contracts which enables contracts to be terminated if a club is relegated, something we were able to do last year. Indeed even with a parachute payment of £500k this is allowed as you are still potentially losing £500k central funding plus whatever commercial and season ticket reductions follow.

So Ralph it is my contention that the structure does have a serious issue here, rather than the local management of the club, because we have failed to make the four and suffer far bigger consequences than being relegated from Super League. We lose £1.05M of central funding but have no protection in the contracts to terminate to protect the business as you do suffering less of a drop by being relegated from Super League. And that, Ralph, is where the problem lies.

I didn’t plan for not making the four; in all honesty it never crossed my mind but if it had what could I have done? Refused to take the parachute and fielded a squad with minimum risk should we not make the four? That’s all I could have done “locally managing the club” and that would have been nonsense. In the end you don’t need a Super League team in the Championship. It actually works against you with the pace of the game and the constant stops in play while people get their breath back but you do need a Super League team when it comes to the play-offs to beat those teams to take their place and that’s where the conundrum is.

I tried to contact Ralph and got a text saying he was overseas and would contact me soonest but I haven’t heard from him. I also called Karen Moorhouse but haven’t heard back there either. Perhaps they have what they want with me having no choice but to leave the sport or maybe I am just becoming paranoid. Either way I certainly feel a little isolated right now but that is something I will speak more about at the appropriate time.

The second comment I saw was from Andy Burnham, someone for whom I have the upmost respect. He made a statement in conjunction with Lord Peter Smith the leader of the council and Jo Platt our local MP.

The statement which was on the GMCA website read: “We know this is a worrying time for all Leigh fans so we wanted to provide reassurance that we stand behind the club and are ready to support it in any way we can through this coming period.

“The success Leigh Centurions have seen in recent years will live long in the memory and is due in no small part to the energy and finance invested by Derek Beaumont. We thank him for his efforts on the club’s behalf.

“Leigh Centurions now needs to begin a new era which could bring real opportunities to build on our traditions. This club has some of the best facilities in Rugby League, a loyal fanbase and neighbouring amateur clubs which are a production line for top players. All of the fundamentals for success are firmly in place and we make a direct appeal to potential investors in Leigh to step forward and write the next chapter in this great club’s proud history.”

Andy was respectful to my position for which I thank him. However, I must respond to the comment stating that “we stand behind the club and are ready to support it in any way we can through this coming period.”

I have contacted Andy to discuss this with me which I look forward to doing when he has the opportunity. The harsh reality that I won’t go into full detail of yet is that the Council and LSV have been anything but supportive and we have been at loggerheads with them all year with them declining my many requests for assistance since being relegated. In actual fact we are being charged more in the Championship this year than we were in Super League last year. The Council and LSV were happy to reap the rewards of my investment and the success it brought the club and the town. Higher attendances and secondary spend increased their income dramatically, whilst the social and economical benefits it brought to the local community and businesses was undoubtedly significant. It’s disappointing that when the tide turned, they weren’t prepared to assist us.

There will be a lot more to come out about the situation at LSV which isn’t appropriate at this stage but I don’t think it is right that people are given a false impression of the actual situation. I haven’t had any contact from (LSV Chief Executive) Simon Toon, Jo Platt or Lord Peter Smith to either see how I am, how the Club is or if there is anything they can do to help the situation.

I have supported them all year against my personal judgement concerning restricting items being brought into the stadium etc but unfortunately haven’t been supported in return. The statement is certainly right in respect of LSV being a fantastic facility, something I have always championed, but it’s no good living in a house in which you can’t afford to pay the bills and that unfortunately is the case and will become even more so as the Club returns to a part time status. With regards to wanting to attract investors I think that is rather more a decision for me to make than them.

This week’s example of LSV ‘s willingness to “stand behind the club and (being) ready to support it in any way we can through this coming period” is me learning that we are not permitted to do the team run on the main pitch on the Saturday before this weekend’s game as normal, due to its usage for football.

I have also found out from the circulated LSV calendar that Manchester United Ladies team have been given use of LSV on two occasions in February and March next year on a Sunday without any consultation or notification to ourselves, which given the Stadium’s primary use is supposed to be for the town’s rugby team I find appalling.

I always say everything happens for a reason and you don’t always know the reason at the time. Something good always comes from something bad and good things happen to good people so I have no doubt that the good people of Leigh will in time enjoy good times and be able to make sense of the reason behind what has happened down the line. I have used my own money to give the Club some great times and will happily write that off to the right people should they come forward to be able to invest in the Club to get it back to Super League, where I still genuinely believe it belongs.

I will always be a fan and a supporter I would like to think when it is all over that I will in time be able to come to games as a sponsor and enjoy watching the Club that I feel is very much part of me. I hope that will soon enough be in Super League. I have been part of it twice and I never say never so who knows maybe down the line it could be third time lucky but for now I think with the uncertainty of the sport and all the issues I have with it, coupled with our current plight, it’s time for a new era and one I genuinely hope can be more successful than I was.

Three Championship League Leaders Shields and a promotion to Super League with three quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup are topped only by our first ever Super League away win and that memorable night scoring 50 at home against Wigan. I have no issues with Wigan; they are a remarkable Club, something I would always aspire to achieve but the local rivalry over the years puts that at the top of my memories.

So before I go we have the chance to win one last thing, something we have never won before, and it would be great if we could go out on a high from such a low position and get that final to be at LSV and lift the Shield for our outstanding fans whom I applaud and am desperately sorry towards!

Yours in sport