This week’s League Express Mailbag


I am writing to try and set the record straight in what I see as a bit of disinformation by the Whitehaven club as to who is responsible for the recent and, one presumes, ongoing financial crisis.

I would like to correct some inaccuracies with particular regard to finances.

In 2020, thanks to the generosity of the Government’s furlough scheme, I would imagine the club to have run a surplus, although the lack of detailed accounts makes that a supposition on my part. Moving through to 2021, when the ‘old’ board resigned in early June, the bank balance was very healthy. There were little in the way of creditors, its tax affairs were up to date, there were no hidden debts, and a good team of players was in place.

Sustainability measures were moving at pace, including the shop, the new ‘Prosecco’ bar, an extension to the Purdham Suite with a facility to join it to the JJ bar for larger functions, a fully revamped boardroom, fully costed plans for our own in-house mass catering and plans for some large events throughout the year.

The club had also re-wired the whole ground.

There were other, numerous plans on the sustainability front at that time, but space will not allow me to go into those here. But I would argue the club had not been in a better all-round place for a long time. There were no debts that had to be carried forward and an application had been made for funding in the realm of six figures and I presume this money was subsequently received.

f debts had to be carried forward, they were incurred in the last seven months of the 2021 financial year and thus entirely out of the ‘old’ board’s control or responsibility.

Sadly, directors have always had to put cash in out of their own pockets. However, whilst I was Chairman, one of the policies I put in place was that any director who put in personal funds (as long as invoices or proper paperwork was produced) had the option of having the said money turned into shares.

This is important, as it gives some security to the lender, helps the club’s cash flow and makes more shareholders. Subsequently, as has been recently shown, these shares can be readily traded.

An increase in shareholders puts the club on a whole new trajectory.

It’s unfortunate that the club do not see fit to issue shares to certain persons who have invested money in good faith to receive shares, but have been denied them. I have been asking for mine and for others for 18 months.

When the club spokesperson says “I hope this covers everything”, I feel it covers very little. There are no facts and figures, no detailed accounts are available other than the limited figures at Companies House, there are no profit and loss statements, no detailed list of expenditure and income, no list of creditors and no detailed plan to move forward.

I think the club as a whole has taken its eye off fund raising and is now reactive instead of being pro-active. I feel the club is suffering from a crisis of confidence.

As a first step, the club may consider the calling of an EGM to thrash things out with the company shareholders. I of course will not be able to attend.

Tom Todd, Former Chairman, Whitehaven RLFC


With reference to Martyn Sadler’s ‘Talking Rugby League’ column in last week’s League Express regarding IMG and the possibility of ditching the Super League branding, I agree with Martyn’s thoughts that ‘Super League’ is used in other sports and ‘Rugby seems to be the preserve of Rugby Union, while Rugby League is not differentiated.

Our game is Rugby League and, in my view, it is, and has always been, superior to Rugby Union, as demonstrated by the adoption by Rugby Union of many League tactics and methods aimed at making that game faster and more attractive. This is accelerated by the appointment of former Rugby League players in senior coaching roles within that sport.

So my rationale goes like this.

1 Rugby League is the superior game, is better to watch and provides greater entertainment.

2 Whether the RFU like it or not, our game is rugby done better and we should not lose this, we should promote it. I think Union recognises this and is trying to catch up.

3 Rugby League is innovative and adopts new approaches to improve the game, although some work and some don’t. Over the many years I have been hooked (since 1960) there have been many positive changes that have radically altered how Rugby League is played, officiated and administered.

 So the branding should reflect the points highlighted above and my suggestion is SUPRARugby League.

SUPRA – because it is above and beyond other forms of Rugby – hence SUPRARugby, and retention of League because we are Rugby League and proud of it.

It’s just a case of joining the two together. It also positions Rugby League beyond Rugby Union.

Whatever is ultimately decided, I hope we trademark the new brand to prevent it being poached by other sports  in the future.

Successive administrators of the game have never appeared prepared to do this.

Rugby League should be proud of the game and its culture and be prepared to say so loudly and brand the game accordingly.

Len Johnstone, Bingley, West Yorkshire


With reference your article “Long Term Plan for Giants youngsters”, which appeared in League Express 9th January edition, could you refrain from referring to Huddersfield Giants as “the Kirklees club”.

This is an administrative district and not a place and unlikely to be known to a lot of your readers.

We are a Huddersfield club and have been since 1895.

Richard Turner, Huddersfield


The latest edition of the Radio Times has a page headed DATES FOR YOUR 2023 DIARY.

It lists plenty of sporting events – tennis, cycling, snooker, union – even 40 years of Black Adder – but it contains not a single Rugby League date.

To miss off the Challenge Cup is disgraceful, especially as they have sole broadcasting rights.

Please can fans write to complain to

Pat Benatmane, Leeds

This article comes from this week’s issue of League Express. You can take out a subscription by going to