The Rugby Football League (RFL) and Super League (Europe) Limited (SLE) will recommend that clubs support a significant realignment of the sport’s governance at a Special General Meeting later this month.
The proposed realignment has been negotiated by Super League and the RFL with the objective of reshaping Rugby League’s commercial and governance model to maximise future opportunities for the sport.
It involves the formation of a new joint venture company, to work closely with but separately from the governing body function of the RFL – the latter will also remain responsible for the community game, and for elite performance through England teams, continuing to work closely with Sport England.
Super League (Europe) will work closely with both the RFL and the new commercial joint venture, and its clubs will focus on delivering the best sporting action and entertainment on the field.
All staff from the RFL and the new joint venture will be based in the Sportcity complex at Manchester’s Etihad Campus, which is due to become the sport’s new headquarters later this year.
In a joint statement, Ken Davy and Simon Johnson, the respective Chairs of Super League and the RFL, explained:
“Like all sports, Rugby League has faced unprecedented challenges over the last two years as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This has concentrated our minds on the opportunities ahead for Rugby League and led to detailed negotiations over recent months with the objective of ensuring the sport re-emerges to a brighter and more sustainable future.
“We are convinced that this recommendation, with the introduction of a new company and a clear distinction from the governance responsibilities of the RFL, is the right model for our sport.
“The new company will allow the value of Rugby League to be maximised by aggregating all commercial, events and media rights, for negotiations with potential commercial partners – and in turn, maximising distributable profits and therefore returns to clubs and the wider game. Each of the RFL, SLE and the new company will therefore be able to concentrate on what they do best for the overall good of Rugby League at every level.
“With an embedded split of the profits between the leagues and the RFL, it also provides long-term financial clarity for member clubs.
“It enshrines a financial model which means all members have a shared destiny with all participating in the growth of revenues in the sport irrespective of which asset delivers that growth.”
The recommended structure of the new company would involve the appointment of a five-strong Board, with two directors appointed by the RFL, two by SLE, and a jointly appointed Chair – all five to be independent from club ties.
The composition of the RFL Board is also expected to change consistent with the change in function of the RFL.
Constitutionally, the RFL Board could determine these changes for the RFL – but the Board have chosen to seek a direct mandate from the members at a Special General Meeting on March 22, given the significance of this matter to the whole sport, and a desire for the sport to move forward confidently and collectively.
By Joshua Chapman