St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus believes Jonny Lomax’s four-year deal to stay at Langtree Park is “tangible evidence” of the club’s ambitions.
Speaking today (Thursday), McManus said: “This is a major boost for St Helens and, on the back of other very recent extensions for our top young British players, a ringing endorsement of all the fantastic commercial and financial strides that Super League and rugby league have recently achieved and will now continue to achieve.
“There can be no better tangible evidence of these recent major achievements than the long-term retention of the very best British talent in which we as a club have invested so much and for so long.”
McManus, a former investment banker who paid his fortune in Hong Kong before returning to his hometown of St Helens, also said recent commercial deals signed by the RLF had helped secured the sport’s future health.
He added: “It is now a great time to be a Super league club. A 63 per cent monetary increase under the new TV contract term allows us all to plan ahead with confidence and in a much more stable environment.
“A real virtuous circle of achievement and strength is rapidly being created for the clubs by the RFL after a fantastically well-delivered and profitable World Cup.
“This is now also underpinned, from the increased TV monies, by a materially increased new central initiative fund which can be used, amongst other things, to market the game more effectively. There are also significantly increased levels of Sky TV funding at many other levels of the wider game.
“Everything that every Super League club has clamoured for in recent years has been delivered: in particular, the full salary cap is now met by the TV distribution alone. It gives us at St.Helens a level of optimism and stability unparalleled in the history of our professional sport.
“The RFL have pulled off a brilliant piece of commercial opportunism at a time when there were three full years left on the existing TV contract, thereby rendering it impossible to put it out to third party tender. There was therefore no possible actual market competition amongst other media groups for some years to come.
“Creating an exciting new league format gave the RFL and Super League a short window of opportunity to table something to Sky at no cost to Super League but of significantly increased value to Sky. It is real coup and to the benefit of all in our game, particularly the supporters.
“Clearly our very best playing talent think this and have demonstrated so in the strongest possible way by committing their long-term careers to Super League.”
Lomax, meanwhile, expressed his delight at a bumper deal which keeps him at Saints until the end of the 2017 season.
“It’s a real thrill to commit my long-term future to my home town club, particularly at a time when the future of the Saints is looking so good and when Super League is clearly going from strength to strength,” said the 23-year-old, who has already clocked up 100 appearances for Saints.
“We have an improving and exciting Saints squad in an improving and strengthening Super League. I can now only look forward with ambition and excitement.