Newcastle Thunder chief reveals how players reacted to the withdrawal from League One and slams player agents

IT’S fair to say that the rugby league fraternity was thrown into shock last week when Newcastle Thunder announced their intention to withdraw from the League One competition for 2024.

With the club suffering financial issues, Thunder made the bold decision to take themselves out of the professional environment for next season.

Unfortunately, the news broke before General Manager Keith Christie could explain the situation to the players via head coach Chris Thorman.

So how did the Newcastle players react to the news? And Christie explains why leaks in rugby league happen.

“It was very reactionary, it was very matter of fact. The information went through Chris (Thorman – Thunder head coach) who was their line manager to give them the news that a statement would be going out,” Christie told League Express.

“However, my bug bear with this industry is agents can’t hold their own water and they actually told some of the players. We thought we trusted these people and they have told others – it completely devalues our game.

“We could have spoken to sponsors or players but they already knew. Granted, we had to prioritise the staff who were losing their jobs, sponsors who are engaged and partners. Could it have been done better? Yes, but unfortunately when people leak information, we can’t be responsible for that. We can’t manage that.”

In terms of what can be done going forward to stop such leaks as well as such financial predicaments that clubs can find themselves in, Christie offered a range of ideas.

“Fundamentally, we need to ensure the framework for each club needs to be sustainable. I think we need to start managing agents, our commercial management and structures. There is so much that clubs and businesses need before they are stabilised or in a position to go forward,” Christie continued.

“Otherwise you are just banking on one man’s generosity to make it sustainable and that’s not a business model anyone wants. If it was a genuine business, it wouldn’t be a model any investor would have.”

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