Wigan Chairman backs Elstone

Wigan Chairman Ian Lenagan, who was instrumental in appointing Robert Elstone as Super League’s Chief Executive in 2018, has continued to back Elstone after his decision to terminate his contract last week, and amid speculation that the next TV deal is going to be significantly less valuable than the current contract.

“I’m not particularly surprised by it (the decision to leave),” Lenagan told the BBC.

“I think Robert has been in the post now for two and a half years. He’s put a hell of a lot of effort and commitment and tireless endeavour into the direction for Super League. He’s done a lot of it, but as ever, with any game, there are always disagreements about whether this is right, that’s right or the other. I think he’s chosen his time very well. We’ve coming towards a new season, a new television deal, lots of opportunities for Rugby League and a great awareness for its community involvement. I think Robert feels that after two and a half years it’s time for him to move on and for Super League to have somebody else to lead the way for the next phase of our growth.”

Lenagan was asked whether the way forward now is for Super League to revert to the RFL’s governance or to bring in a new figure?

“We think what Robert has done is two and a half years of hard graft and direction,” said Lenagan.

“I think that’s a success, not a failure. Sure we haven’t done absolutely everything we would like, but Super League and Rugby League generally, in terms of its community involvement and its TV presence, because the increases in the broadcasting audiences for Super League were quite dramatic in 2019 under Robert’s control and now in 2020 of course we have survived through a very difficult lockdown.

“I’m not a great believer in looking backwards. I think that Super League and Rugby League generally is in a good place thanks to what has happened over the last two and a half years and we’re absolutely committed to going forward.

“Robert has picked his time and that’s his choice and I think we will do well with whoever comes in behind Robert.”

And Lenagan responded firmly when asked whether he would describe Super League as being in “a pretty precarious situation going forward.”

“Absolutely not at all,” said Lenagan.

“I’ve no idea why you would say that. We’ve come through the worst financial period of all through lockdown extremely well. No casualties here in Super League at all. We’ve in a position with a new TV deal that’s been offered to us by a very good partner in Sky. We have an opportunity to grow even further. I don’t know why anyone would think that a Chairman moving on after two and a half years in a job is in any way a critical position.”

Click here to see League Express editor Martyn Sadler’s open letter to Ian Lenagan.

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