RFL criticises St Helens Chairman’s programme article

The Rugby Football League has issued a statement criticising St Helens Chairman Eamonn McManus’s programme article for the visit of Castleford Tigers to the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday night.

In the article McManus criticised Challenge Cup Final referee Robert Hicks for what he alleges are mistakes made in the game at Wembley, and for his action in meeting a Warrington supporter who had issued him with a death threat earlier in the season, with McManus alleging that the meeting took place at the instigation of St Helens’ Wembley opponents Warrington Wolves.

“The RFL is saddened by the content of the club chairman’s matchday programme column of Friday 30 August and the matter has been referred to the RFL’s Compliance Team,” said the statement.

“Several inaccuracies were contained in the piece, including concerning the timeline of the death threat to an official’s family and subsequent work with the police. It is a serious misreading of the situation to refer to a request by ITV for a brief news interview (concerning the threat made a month earlier) as some form of contrived stunt.

“Match officials are at the centre of our sport, at all levels. Everyone in the sport appreciates that they are vital. Our match officials are hardworking, impartial, and deserving of respect and support. Theirs is a difficult job and without them there is no sport.

“The Match Officials department works with and meets all clubs maturely, professionally and without fear or favour. It does this to increase understanding of the role including the system of independent review, professional training and development; consultation on rules, regulations and procedures; to promote the sport-wide ‘Enjoy the Game’ campaign at all levels and encourage pro-clubs to set an example for the rest of the sport; and to encourage and support referee recruitment and retention, and the mental and physical wellbeing of match officials alongside that of players and coaches.”