naive,stupid ..or liars? Saints chief blasts those who refuse to accept the need for change as the sport stands on brink of civil war.
Byline: GARETH WALKER
EXCLUSIVE BY GARETH WALKER Rugby Lge Correspondent @garethwalker ST HELENS chairman Eamonn McManus has denied claims that the 11 Super League clubs pushing for change are greedy power-grabbers - as the sport heads for its biggest meeting since switching to summer.
The 38 professional clubs gather at a Manchester hotel today to vote on a proposal to scrap the current Super 8s format immediately and decide how to distribute central funding once the current TV deal ends in 2021.
The move for change has been driven by all the Super League clubs except Leeds, but opposed by the vast majority of Championship and League One clubs. They want more than the one promotion and relegation spot being proposed, and say their percentage cut of the next TV deal should remain the same as now - instead of being reduced.
It has prompted fears that should the compromise presented by the RFL today be rejected, it could cause a split in the sport, with the top flight breaking away.
McManus stopped short of making that threat but says an increased focus on Super League is needed to prevent the sport falling further behind rivals the NRL and rugby union's Premiership.
McManus told Mirror Sport: "If anyone thinks the sport has been progressing over the last 10 years they are either naive, stupid, liars or all three.
"The commercial performance of the game, the spectacle and quality of the game at the top level absolutely has to improve. I'm not in the business of being wrongly accused of being greedy power-grabbers, it's quite the opposite.
"The men at the helm have put tens of millions of their own personal capital into this game, which the whole game has benefited from.
"The last TV deal, the Championship clubs got a 150 per cent increase, while Super League clubs got 25 per cent - how can we be accused of being greedy? All we're trying to do is be in a strong position when we get to that table in two years' time for a new TV deal.
"We need to try to get back on a par with the NRL and with Premiership rugby union, because if we don't, we're finished. "The starting point is strengthening Super League. We have to make the game more commercially attractive because we're dying at the moment.
"If the proposal doesn't get through, then Super League quickly has to make its own decision over what it does to move forward. There are other options and we're weighing those up."