Robert Elstone has achieved a lot for Super League, says Wigan owner

Super League is in a good place as it comes to terms with the sudden departure of executive chairman Robert Elstone, according to Wigan owner Ian Lenagan.

The sudden decision of the former Everton chief executive to tender his resignation as head of Super League has given rise to speculation that the administrative body will come back under the umbrella of the Rugby Football League.

But Lenagan, who led the breakaway in 2018 and oversaw the appointment of Elstone as chief executive, insists it is not a time for major change and wants to see a successor appointed to continue the work of Elstone.

Lenagan said: “It’s two and a half years since Robert was appointed and he’s obviously decided it’s time to move on. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

“I think he’s worked very hard, very diligently and I think he’s achieved quite a lot.”

Wigan owner Ian Lenagan

Elstone’s resignation comes just a month after his proposal to sell a major stake in Super League to a private equity company was rejected by the clubs but Lenagan insists he was not forced out of office.

Lenagan said: “There was a vote of confidence in him which he won significantly and that was months ago.

“I think Super League is in a good place. Robert has been there two and a half years and it’s time to look forward to the next stage in the development of Super League.

“It’s time for somebody else to drive it forward, it’s not a time for massive change.

“I never believe in going backwards. I think rugby league and Super League is in a very good position at the moment and we should be looking at how we drive it forward.”

READ: Robert Elstone to leave role as Super League boss

Elstone, who worked at the RFL in the early days of Super League before joining Everton, was headhunted for the role in 2018 by Lenagan, who does not expect to be involved in finding a replacement.

“That’s for Super League to decide, not Wigan,” he said.

Elstone’s main brief was to negotiate a new television deal, with the current contract with Sky due to expire this year, and it is not clear whether he will continue to be involved with those discussions – his resignation will be considered at the next Super League board meeting.

There is speculation that Super League will be forced to accept a significant reduction in TV income but Lenagan is comfortable with the situation and believes the game is in good shape despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lenagan added: “In terms of the TV deal, Sky is a great partner. I think we’ve done well with them.

“The increases in television audience, particularly in 2019, were quite dramatic and we survived extremely well through 2020.

“I thought Super League and the RFL organised last season extremely well, I see no reason why that shouldn’t occur again.

“I think rugby league and Super League are in a good position. Our community involvement and contribution has been praised to the height in terms of what we do.

“We’re in a good position with all our 12 clubs, I don’t see any particular issue with where we are now but I’m speaking as chairman of Wigan.”

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