This winter has seen various reports about what the future of Super League – and rugby league in general – may look like with names linked with taking over at the helm of the competition as well as rumours of sports promoter Eddie Hearn getting involved in the game.
This week has seen the former Castleford Tigers’ board member and current Everton football club CEO Robert Elstone emerge as the favourite to fill the vacant role in charge of Super League and the appointment is set to be announced in the coming days. Unlike other candidates for the role, Elstone has a history in rugby league and is openly a huge fan of the sport and, coupled with his experience in both football and RL, seems a superb candidate to take the sport through what are difficult and uncertain times.
Following a successful RLWC, many hoped that 2018 would be the year that the game truly started to grow. However, there isn’t any guarantee about what the make up of the sport in the northern hemisphere will look like next year and, as described by Hearn, rugby league “is on it’s knees.” It is a time where marketing needs to be improved in order to bring more money into the sport which, historically, is solely based around the M62. While expansion talks continue with further North American teams continue, it is widely believed that there needs to be some focus on the game in the UK; reserve teams, refereeing, recruiting new fans… there is clearly work to do – and Super League clubs believe Elstone is the man to guide their competition.
Following Nigel Woods’ departure at RFL CEO and from the Super League board, the twelve current Super League clubs targeted more power for themseleves – and got it. As it stands, the clubs are essentially breaking away from the RFL having formed their own board and, after his involvement with one of English football’s most famous names, Elstone has experience of a similar set up – England’s Premier League is a separate entity from the FA and has huge control over its club’s finances and destiny. That is what Super League club’s believe they are entitled to; they will be hoping Elstone can deliver for them.