McManus hits out at Super League deal critics

Eamonn McManus has been critical of the conduct of other Super League clubs
Eamonn McManus has been critical of the conduct of other Super League clubs
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Saints chairman Eamonn McManus has taken a swipe at critics of Super League’s new five-year Sky Sports TV deal.

Both Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan and Salford supremo Dr Marwan Koukash have criticised the RFL for hastily agreeing a lucrative £200m extension, which runs until 2021.

Lenagan, despite voting for the deal, described it as a “dreadful commercial decision”, while Koukash said “you don’t marry the first girl you meet”.

But the Saints chief insisted the deal meant that after years of uncertainty, Super League was now in itsstrongest ever position.

He said: “I’ve never been more confident about the game and about Super League than I am today.

“We’ve hosted a fantastically successful and well-delivered World Cup, announced a new structure for Super League which I’m convinced will provide more competitive, higher quality games for spectators every week and we have major new sponsors and a new TV deal which gives absolute stability and strength to the game.

“This TV deal was a great piece of commercial opportunism by the RFL - despite there being three years left on the existing contract.

“I don’t see how anyone can criticise it to any degree without coming up with a better alternative. If there are better alternatives out there - please put them on the table.”

McManus said the new TV deal would also help Super League clubs retain top English talent - not lose them to the NRL.

He added: “Clearly we hold different opinions (from Ian Lenagan and Marwan Koukash). I think mine is based upon fact.

“Looking back at the history of the game I defy anyone to find a period where we’ve achieved solvency and stability at a stroke and can plan with confidence for the future.

“It has never happened to this degree before. Four months ago - because of the attitude and behaviour of some of the clubs - some meetings had to be cancelled.

“I will go on record as saying that the one meeting cancelled because six clubs walked out is unacceptable.

“It set a terrible precedent and terrible example. It opens up a Pandora’s box for the future that a minority of clubs can prevent progress and must not be allowed to happen again.”