Saints chairman backs French Super League teams despite lack of TV deal

Steven Brady
Eamonn McManus speaks out in favour of French Super League teams

Super League should embrace Thursday’s historic French derby according to one of the leading clubs’ chairmen.

Catalans will take on Toulouse in the ‘Rivals Round’, the first ever Super League derby in France.

St Helens owner Eamon McManus is a huge supporter of the inclusion of two French clubs in the competition.

And he believes the British game should continue ‘to invest’ in the game across the Channel.

McManus attended Saints’ 36-20 Challenge Cup win over Catalans Dragons at the weekend and he was full of praise for the Perpignan-based club.

He said: “How can you not admire what Catalans are trying to do here?

“Everything that we saw on the field today was great and everything in and around the stadium is good too.

“It’s not just about the game. It is about supporters spending a couple of days over here. It’s a very welcoming place and in modern-day sport that is quite a unique environment and, from what I understand, Toulouse are trying to do the same thing.”

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Opposition to French Super League teams over TV money

McManus admits that there is some opposition among fellow club owners to French Super League teams taking money from central distribution funds while not contributing directly financially from commercial or television deals in France.

He said: “I don’t think there is a single view on this, everybody seems to have a different opinion.

“The reality is that they get a distribution from the UK TV deal so it depends on your point of view. It can be viewed as a subsidy or an investment.

“In my opinion we have to buy into it. Rugby League is a professional sport and in business you cannot be too introspective or short-termist.

“Everybody wants to see Rugby League thrive in France. If you are a supporter of the game you want to see it grow here.

“We haven’t been able to develop the game in the south of England, there is a much greater chance of doing so in the south of France.

“I’ve always thought from the outset that having one French team in Super League is an oddity.

“But now we’ve got two French teams it becomes a kind of anglo-French competition and it creates a brand new derby and local rivalry.

“It is what’s needed and both clubs will benefit from it. French Rugby League will benefit and particularly as the World Cup is approaching here in three years’ time.

“It’s a big step forward for French Rugby League and it has my support.”

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