St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus has hit back at Leeds chief Gary Hetherington following the latter’s dismissal of this week’s Super League press conference.
New Super League chief executive, Robert Elstone, was flanked by McManus, Simon Moran (Warrington) and Ian Lenagan (Wigan) at a specially arranged media event earlier this week to introduce himself.
This included the revelation that the Super 8s would be scrapped in favour of a return of a one-up one-down promotion and relegation system.
In the aftermath of the meeting, Hetherington issued a strongly worded statement calling it “an absurd power grab by a small group of men who think that they own the game”.
He was joined in making a statement against the meeting by counterparts at Batley, Doncaster and Featherstone.
The majority of Super League clubs issued their own statements in support of Elstone following the meeting.
In his follow up statement, McManus said: “Gary Hetherington’s recent description of the democratic election of a new CEO by Super League could not be a greater distortion of the truth.
“Each Super League club appointed its own director to the board of Super League six months ago. This constitutional change was made to ensure transparency of information to all clubs and to provide equality of influence and equality of treatment by and between all clubs. This concept clearly does not seem to rest well with Gary.
“I have never known Super League clubs to be so unified and to have such a strength of purpose as they do presently.
“Gary’s comments on the Super League competition structure vote were also as inaccurate in content as they were destructive in intention. The board of Super League, by a majority of 11 to 1, voted to end to the Super Eights structure and to replace it with a more orthodox and readily understood form of promotion and relegation.
“It strongly considers that the annual risk of up to one third of its clubs being relegated acts as a major disincentive to full, proper and long-term investment, which in turn will also have a consequent negative effect on the entire game.
“However, it was made abundantly clear in Super League’s press conference on Tuesday that the implementation of this unequivocal view was still subject to the agreement of the RFL.
“It was also made known that constructive, private and professional discussions had been taking place between Super League, the RFL and the Championship clubs in recent weeks and that it is now Robert’s priority task to continue these to an appropriate conclusion.
“That said, any theoretical continuation of the Super Eights beyond this season would effectively force a competition structure upon a very unwilling Super League by bodies which are significantly funded by Super League – that is not a practical or sustainable scenario for any party.”