Ralph Rimmer believes it is critical that “we sell the sport as one” as the re-alignment of the Rugby Football League and Super League moves closer.
Rimmer is preparing to lead a strategic working party examining ways to take the game forward. The working party has been created to examine the game’s calendar and competition structures and to identify a strategic partner to support the delivery of its recommendations.
Rimmer is joined on the panel by the RFL’s chief regulatory officer Karen Moorhouse and high-ranking Super League officials Gary Hetherington (Leeds), Paul Lakin (Hull KR), Eamonn McManus (St Helens) and Stuart Middleton (Warrington).
The strategic working party is separate to the group created to oversee a re-alignment of the two governing bodies following Super League’s breakaway from the RFL in 2018.
The re-alignment is being driven by Super League’s interim chairman Ken Davy and Rimmer, who opposed the breakaway, spoke of the benefits of a unified game.
“Firstly, I think it’s critical we sell the sport as one,” Rimmer said. “All the elements will come together, they won’t work in conflict any more and that’s really significant.
“It offers a really considerable benefit to any potential investment partner who will want to have input into how a sport goes forward commercially as a whole.”
Rimmer sought to allay fears that some of the part-time clubs – which now include London Broncos – could fold due to a major cut in central funding, a direct consequence of a reduced television deal with Sky.
“There are no guarantees,” he said. “What I would say is that all the clubs have attended regular forums with us and no surprises have come out.
“We’re working very hard to keep everybody in the game.”
Super League agreed to hand over more than £5million of the £25m it is thought they will receive from Sky in 2022 and the governing body is ready to distribute around £2m of their share to the 24 non-Super League clubs.
“I think the Super League have acted honourably in this,” Rimmer said. “The negotiations were certainly very tough indeed but we’re all taking the pain.
“Nevertheless, this is about reshaping, reforming and putting ourselves into a place where we can attract equity investment and take the sport forward.
“From some of the conversations I’m having, there is a very exciting future ahead of us.”
Rimmer says the RFL is close to announcing a broadcast deal of its own for coverage of matches in the Championship and League One.