Eamonn Writes In M.E.N

SAINTS Chairman, Eamonn McManus, in today’s Manchester Evening News, commented:

Despite comments to the contrary in recent days, I’m delighted to say Super League goes from strength to strength as we prepare to enter into a new and exciting era. It is fantastic news that the game’s commercial and marketing operations are transferring to Media City in Greater Manchester. Manchester is an international city, an international sporting city and an international media city. Rugby league is an international sport with a great product which is steeped in tradition and history. It is a significant and welcome step forward that we are now running and accurately presenting ourselves as such. It has always been an issue of mine that our headquarters is located at Red Hall, namely in a farmer’s field twenty miles north of Leeds. No slight meant on Leeds but every slight meant on farmers’ fields when it comes to a sporting business HQ and their consequent image.

More importantly, our new long term TV deal, combined with the very exciting new league formula for next season, will result in every club being able to spend full salary cap in 2015 without the overspending which blighted our game in recent years and which resulted in an embarrassing slew of club bankruptcies. We are now in a position whereby every game in next year’s Super League will be fantastically competitive, and every club could and should be profitable. What a unique and enviable message of strength that would send out for rugby league amidst the otherwise increasingly insane and unstable commercial world of professional sport.

I was therefore happy that this week’s Super League AGM saw ten clubs vote to defer consideration of the potentially inflationary “Marquee player proposal” to a date after the new league system has time to prove itself and bed in. More importantly, it is to be reconsidered in conjunction with other critically related matters regarding salary cap and British player production and retention. It was  hilarious that Salford claimed that it was voted down by “RFL friendly clubs” when the proposal was created by the RFL in the first instance and re tabled by the RFL subsequently – you certainly don’t need enemies with friends like that!  It is nevertheless heart-warming that we can still maintain a keen sense of humour even when we discuss the most serious of matters.

What is not humorous however is the normally very sensible and impressive Brian Carney suggesting that the salary cap be disbanded altogether. He says that rugby league clubs did not go insolvent before its adoption. I’m afraid there couldn’t be anything further from the truth. In fact, the big three of Saints, Wigan and Leeds were all seriously bust due to overspending on players and had to be bailed out by myself, Dave Whelan and Paul Caddick respectively. Other clubs even had to merge to save themselves. It was because of this that the salary cap was adopted and with the unanimous and continuing approval of clubs. It is the envy of other sports. Super League was saved by it and would be deeply vulnerable without it. Clubs have to be permanently self-sustaining and not dependent on the temporary largesse of chairmen and directors. Our new TV deal enables that as long as salary cap remains, and at its current level and in its current form.

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