EAMONN McManus believes the Covid-19 outbreak may force Super League to ditch its ‘breakaway’ as it means ‘unnecessary’ costs.
The whole of the 13-a-side code is fighting for its life and top flight club bosses are now swaying towards reuniting with the Rugby Football League, two years after a civil war.
St Helens owner McManus sat alongside executive chairman Robert Elstone – thought to be on a salary of about £400,000-a-year – at his unveiling.
But he feels pairing back up with the RFL, with a greater say than previously over commercial deals, can ensure the sport can emerge from its shutdown better.
He said: “It’s a matter of common sense and fact that we as directors of Super League look at how we survive this coming year and how we’re in a position of strength thereafter.
“Anywhere there’s duplicate costs which are unnecessary has to be analysed.
“I’ve been impressed with how the RFL has gone about things, in relation to other sports too. They’ve been pretty smart and professional.
“A form of realignment with the RFL to rationalise, restructure and save unnecessary expenditure and to be more efficient going forward is necessary.
“Super League can’t go back to where we were a couple of years ago, the RFL knows that, but a realignment and to be seen as a single sport can only be a good thing.”
McManus, who appeared alongside Wigan’s Ian Lenagan and Warrington’s Simon Moran at Elstone’s unveiling, lifted the lid on why clubs ‘split’ from the RFL.
Top of the list was to get the best new TV deal possible but the change in circumstances means just getting the same as 2016’s £200 million agreement will put them in a stronger position.
And if people accuse him of backing the wrong horse, he is happy to say so if it proves that way.
McManus added: “Super League needs the degree of transparency and input into the RFL it thoroughly deserves. There’s a recognition on both sides that has to be the case.
“The commercial side was the driving force for the separation. All we want to know is that when deals are struck, Super League’s interests are properly recognised and represented.
“That just relates to transparency, which we didn’t have. We didn’t have the degree of openness and input we felt we deserved.
“The changes that took place were a recommendation of the board of the RFL as well as Super League. There was a recognition we had to improve our commercial performance.
“But we’re in very different circumstances now than we were two years ago. Extreme times and circumstances really focus the mind.
“We shouldn’t be looking to shrink the game, we should look to strengthen it by means of consolidation.
“Club rugby union may be severely weakened and the NRL is going through major adjustments – here’s an opportunity for us to improve our position against our main competitors if we come out of this in tact.
“What we can’t do is just go into our shell and feel sorry for ourselves, going into a cost cutting exercise only.
“In the most radical circumstances, thinking can change and circumstances couldn’t have changed more than they have recently.
“However, if I’ve got it wrong, I’ve got it wrong. I’m not going to shy away from that.”