Talking RL: ‘Did £2m loss include pay-offs and scrapped Dubai trip?’

Robert Elstone says money was one of the main issues why clubs wanted the Super League shake-up
Robert Elstone says money was one of the main issues why clubs wanted the Super League shake-up
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The Rugby Football League has revealed it made a loss of more than £2million in 2017. It will be interesting to read the full annual accounts when they are published in full later this year.

Interesting to see if England’s Dubai training camp, which was booked and then scrapped, is included in that figure.

Interesting to see if a severance pay-out to chief executive Nigel Wood – reported by League Express to be £500,000 – is included in that figure.

Interesting to see if money paid for Wood to work as a ‘consultant’, which reportedly involved a trip to New York, is included in that figure.

Interesting to see if a severance pay-out to another executive, Roger Draper – reported by League Weekly as close to £300,000 – is included in that figure.

Money, said new Super League chief executive Robert Elstone, was one of the three motivating reasons why Super League clubs wanted to take control of the competition from the RFL’s hands.

The other two were ‘focus’ and ‘performance’.

Elstone revealed as much on the Whippets and Flatcaps podcast run by players Mark Flanagan and Jon Wilkin, which is well worth a listen.

He says 98 per cent of his role will be working towards the next broadcast deal, or deals.

He floated the idea of a Toulouse Magic Weekend, warned clubs of a minimum criteria – including (yeah!) producing homegrown players – and revealed Championship and League One clubs would continue to get the same level of funding long-term, provided the new TV contract is equal, or better, than the current one.

Other snippets of his interview were:

On Thursday night games: “I get that they’re difficult for fans but it’s a good night for the TV audience, it works for Sky, audience figures are good and we have to deliver for our broadcast partners.”

On Toronto: “Toronto is an opportunity for us, they make me slightly nervous... (the owner’s) intentions today are great but we can’t be certain they’ll be great in five years time? We have to proceed with optimism but a degree of caution.”

On expanding to 14 clubs: “I would probably challenge if there was the quality in the player-base to do it. The best thing we can do is put the best product in front of range of broadcast partners, and we can’t dilute it, we can’t have stadiums with 1,500-2,000 fans, squads which looking thin when hit with injuries six weeks in, so I’m airing towards 12 (teams) or even fewer to make sure we have the depth.”

Well worth a listen.

Every Sunday night, it seems, the texts and tweets appear on my phone.

‘Is it true Wigan are signing Dec Patton?’

Or Jake Mamo.

Or Tui Lolohea.

Or is Thomas Leuluai really going to Catalans?

What about George Williams?

None of those had any substance and while a lot can change in rugby league very quickly, here’s my prediction: there won’t be much change to the Wigan squad for next year.

John Bateman will depart for Canberra, but he has effectively been replaced already by Joe Greenwood, and Zak Hardaker will come in for Sam Tomkins.

Sure, Joel Tomkins left and Ryan Sutton is also going, but given the development of Gabe Hamlin and Romain Navarrete, are Wigan looking light up front? I’d say not.

We don’t yet know if Leuluai and Sean O’Loughlin will play on, but given the form they are in, I’d be more than happy to see them lace up the boots in 2019.

The Sky Sports man of the match award has been puzzling all season.

Fans vote for the winner through an app, but the shortlist is provided by an anonymous ‘legend’.

Hull FC winger Hakim Miloudi took home the prize last week.

“Stevie Wonder must have voted for that,” quipped his coach, Lee Radford.

Shaun Wane can’t even enjoy the World Cup, he says, without analysing a match with his coach’s hat on.

“Because I look at their equivalent of core skills, and if they’re not doing it correctly, I’m asking, ‘Why not? What sort of things will annoy the manager?’ That’s just the saddo part of me,” he said.

At least there is some relief for wife Lorraine and his family.

“I took the joy out of rugby league for my missus by pausing games, rewinding it, slo-mo... I don’t do it with the football!”