Realignment of Super League and RFL officially begins at new Etihad Campus site

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josie andrews
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Realignment of Super League and RFL officially begins at new Etihad Campus site

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The two bodies will now work under the same roof in the next move towards bringing the game back together.

Rugby league’s much-heralded realignment officially began today under one roof at plush new premises at the Etihad Campus in Manchester. Super League clubs split from the Rugby Football League in 2018 and set up a separate organisation headed up by former Everton supremo Robert Elstone.

It was designed to increase revenues within the top flight but, amid the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the RFL and Super League clubs have begun working in unison again. Super League have moved out of their base in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and the RFL have left their offices at Quay West in Salford.

Both organisations have taken up a new home at the House of Sport building on the Etihad Campus, in the shadow of Manchester City Football Club and the £365m Co-op Live arena which is currently being built. Rhodri Jones, Super League’s Chief Commercial Officer, told Rugby League Live: “Today has been the first official day of the new headquarters for the sport.

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“The RFL had already moved out of Red Hall in Leeds and now also out of Quay West at Media City. The Super League staff vacated their Northern Quarter offices earlier this summer, so today is day one of everyone walking through the same door. It is the first time, visibly, of the sport realigning and everyone being back in the same office space again. It’s been a good first day and a lot of people know each other previously, having worked at the RFL, so it’s been about re-familiarising relationships that we had previously.

"But it’s also been about making new relationships because this is how the sport is going to be going forward with us all under one roof. A few people have said today ‘oh, that has saved me a phonecall’ because we’re together in the same building, so it’s working already. We’ve got an exciting end to the domestic season ahead, then obviously a home World Cup, so hopefully we can end 2022 in celebratory mood.”

Earlier this month, Frank Slevin was appointed as the first Chair of RL Commercial, the new company created to drive rugby league’s commercial development as part of the realignment of the sport’s governance. Slevin was appointed following a thorough recruitment process involving representatives of the Rugby Football League, Super League Europe and their strategic partner IMG.

Jones added: “All the realignment documents have been agreed and signed, but for now all Super League staff still work for Super League. Obviously with the appointment of Frank Slevin last week as the RL Commercial Chair, it will be very much on his list things to do to transfer Super League staff and RFL staff into the new Rugby League Commercial organisation, which is obviously going to be based here as well.

We’re just next door to the Commonwealth Games athletics warm-up track, so we’re very much in the hub of Sport City.”

Clare Balding, the current RFL President, was in attendance at the new offices today to welcome staff.

Jones, who joined the RFL in 2007 before joining the new Super League organisation in 2018, said: “It was nice to see someone of Clare’s stature on such a momentous day for the sport.”

The 12-year “strategic partnership” with IMG is another key step in driving the future of the sport following realignment.

Jones said: “When we sat down with IMG, the ability for us as a sport to be as one certainly played a significant factor in their decision to partner with us for 12 years. The game had to come together to secure a partnership such as the IMG deal and one of the outputs from that relationship and realignment is what we’re seeing today.” ... y-24764443
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