Schoey says: Not so well done, Robert Elstone

So it’s farewell Robert Elstone.

The former Executive Chairman left Super League on Friday, and his parting shot will surely have raised a few eyebrows.

“I will look back with great pride on what has been achieved since I joined Super League at the start of its new journey almost three years ago,” he said.

I’m glad someone thinks it’s a job well done, but I can’t concur.

Robert’s overriding task when the top-flight separated from the RFL was to negotiate a new and presumably improved broadcast deal, then to bring in additional finance through other means and to raise the profile of the competition.

Other than an extension of Betfred’s naming agreement, I don’t see much evidence of the latter two, and we’re all expecting the new TV deal to be worth significantly less than the current one.

Of course the pandemic has posed massive problems, but if coronavirus hadn’t come along, would we have seen an improved broadcast contract?

We’ll never know, but I’m not convinced we would have.

And let’s not forget that eye-watering £750,000 bill due to the merchant banker brought in to facilitate the private-equity deal, which the clubs rejected.

Mention of the clubs is a reminder of the problem Robert was always up against, because as I’ve said so often, their habit of pursuing their own individual interests at the expense of those of the game as a whole has always held Rugby League back.

There’s been little to suggest that will change, so whoever replaces Robert will face the same situation.

I’d really like to see a return to one governing body that is independent of the clubs, but I just can’t see it happening however expensive the Super League breakaway has been.

Bad news for referees

Losing referees supremo Phil Bentham is something the RFL could have done without.

There’s still no word on when Steve Ganson, for whom Phil had been standing in as head of match officials, will be back at his desk.

Meanwhile, the RFL say they are on the lookout for a new referees’ coach, which was Phil’s other role.

Will there be a queue of suitably qualified candidates?

It’s a pretty thankless task, just as it is for the modern-day man in the middle, who is under more pressure than ever due to the presence of the man in the stand, the video referee, various cameras and all those keyboard warriors.

Oh for the days when the referee was given the powers and independence to work with his touch judges and without constant external input.

I know technology is here to stay, but is it put to its best use, and can we really say the standard of refereeing is better because of its presence?

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