St Helens’ chairman Eamonn McManus has been fined £3,000, with £1,000 of this suspended until the end of the 2020 season, following comments made after August’s Challenge Cup Final between St Helens and Warrington Wolves.
The fine imposed has been reached by way of an Agreed Decision in accordance with RFL processes.
In his programme notes for the St Helens versus Castleford Tigers Super League game on August 30 (and in a subsequent press release), Mr McManus made comments relating both to the appointment of Robert Hicks as referee for the Challenge Cup Final and to his officiating of that game.
McManus used his notes in the programme for his club's subsequent Super League match to launch a blistering attack on Hicks, who failed to go to the video referee after disallowing an early try by Morgan Knowles.
He also brought up whether match officials should use social media after pointing to the brokering of a meeting by Warrington chief executive Karl Fitpatrick between Hicks and a Warrington supporter who had issued him with a death threat on Twitter.
McManus described it as a "stunt", questioning how this could be allowed to happen before a cup final.
Mr McManus accepts that his comments breached the Operational Rules and accepts the sanction.
Karen Moorhouse, RFL Chief Regulatory Officer, said: “Match officials are hardworking, impartial, and deserving of respect and support. Theirs is a difficult job and without them there is no game.
“Through the Enjoy the Game campaign we encourage professional clubs to set an example for the rest of the sport, to support the recruitment and retention of match officials, and to promote the mental and physical wellbeing of match officials alongside that of players and coaches.
“We will be working with clubs to reinforce the importance of the Enjoy the Game campaign during the off-season.”
The fine is consistent with previous decisions made in comparable circumstances.