sport

Lindsay backs new RFL chief

Maurice Lindsay has hailed the appointment of former FA chief executive Brian Barwick as the non-executive chairman of the RFL.

Barwick whose previous positions also include that of controller of sport at ITV and head of television sport at the BBC, takes over from former Manchester United director Maurice Watkins.

Watkins, who will see out his term of office on the RFL's independent board of directors, has been acting as interim chairman since Richard Lewis moved to the All England Club last May.

In a week in which the spotlight was on rugby league for all the wrong reasons, with a BBC-commissioned report claiming Super League clubs are facing a "financial abyss", the arrival of Barwick will add a much-needed touch of credibility.

"It's a terrific appointment," said former Wigan chairman and one-time RFL chief executive Maurice Lindsay, "one of the best the League have ever made.

"When he was in charge of sport at the BBC he was the most supportive executive we ever dealt with. He understood our sport from his days at Grandstand and never forgot us.

"He cares for the game and appreciates its value. When he launched the Respect campaign during his time at the FA he included a lot of principles he drew from both codes of rugby."

Barwick will formally take up his part-time post on Friday, the start of the new Super League season, but attended his first meeting of the RFL's board today.

"I am absolutely delighted to accept the position," Barwick said.

"Rugby league is a sport I have a genuine respect and affection for and I am determined to spread the word about what a great sport rugby league is, especially at this exciting time when we host the Rugby League World Cup in England and Wales.

"The RFL is a widely-respected governing body, with an exceptionally strong management team which has produced outstanding results over the last decade, and I am very much looking forward to joining the board and working with my new colleagues to take this great game forward."

Barwick was FA chief executive from 2005 to 2008 and saw through the completion of the new Wembley Stadium, launched the Respect campaign and was involved in the appointment of England's senior coach on two occasions.

He was also a board member of Wembley Stadium Ltd and FIFA's legal committee and UEFA's national teams committee.

RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said: "I am delighted that we have been able to attract a sports administrator of Brian's calibre. His track record speaks for itself.

"Brian's considerable experience will help us take the game forward as rugby league prepares to embark on the most important year in its history with a competitive Super League, a new-look Championships and, of course, the Rugby League World Cup in England and Wales this autumn."