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

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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  1. Completely agree with McManus been a number of times always enjoyed it. Great experience. And happy to have a second French team in super leauge, hope they stay .

  2. Fully agree. I went to Toulouse for the first Saints game and was immensely impressed with the huge potential.
    It would be madness to ditch TO after one season. We must invest in France

    • The only way Toulouse Olympique will be able to grow into a proper Super League club is to make them safe from relegation for five years.The potential in Toulouse is immense.Toulouse Olympique could not only grow to be the biggest rugby league club in Europe,they could also spur the French natinal team to become a fourth competitive nation for the first time since the seventies.

      Sorry Leigh and Featherstone,its TO`s time.

  3. Really strange that some owners think Catalans getting a share of the UK TV deal is some form of investment at best, or subsidy at worst. Sky is paying Super League for content, and Catalans create 1/12th of the content so the money is theirs, earned.

    It would be like suggesting that Premier League overseas TV deals’ money should stay in the country that pays it, instead of going to the clubs in England who create the content. Such a weird way of looking at it.

  4. I am against French times getting anything above what Superleague teams get there are teams in the Championship and below that desperately need more income, Mr.McManus may want more French teams in Superleague but I think he’s in a minority.

  5. I’m from Australia and I love the inclusion of the second French team. I desperately want to see France grow internationally. This will only increase interest in the game world wide, which should have a positive spin off for both Superleague and the NRL

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