Lindsay bullish as Super League lays on glitz

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The Independent Online
After the glitch comes the glitz, with the European Super League and Sky TV insisting at a spectacular launch yesterday that their vision remains intact despite events in Australia.

Rugby league's forthcoming inaugural summer season was given its most powerful push so far in a London hotel, with everyone involved pledging to make it bigger and better than anything the sport has yet seen.

But the court verdict in Australia that is preventing the southern hemisphere equivalent from kicking off this weekend was never far from centre stage.

The European Super League's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay, did his best to allay fears, that, without Australian teams to compete against at the end of this season, his own competition is fatally wounded.

"I am confident that there will be play-offs at the end of the first Super League season," he said. "Matters will stabilise in Australia and then we will be able to reveal further details to you."

Lindsay also revealed that the Australian Rugby League chairman, Ken Arthurson, had contacted him during his recent visit to Australia, raising hopes that the two men, on opposite sides of an often acrimonious world- side battle, could yet reach an accommodation.

He was also adamant that Great Britain's tour to the southern hemisphere this autumn will go ahead, taking in Papua New Guinea and New Zealand and, if necessary, fitting in Fiji and Western Samoa in place of the Australian section of the itinerary.

The main object of the exercise, however, was to show that, whatever happens in Australia, the show here goes on. With just four weeks to go before the first Super League match, between Paris and Sheffield Eagles, Sky and the competition's sponsors, Stone's, were talking about the same level of promotion and commitment that has been brought to football's Premiership.

"We intend to support and commit ourselves to rugby league to the same extent," said Bass brewer's head of sponsorship, Jonathan Nye.

Sky's own advertising campaign, which began today promises to be equally high powered. "You will see a marketing campaign second to none," said Sky's head of programming, David Elstein.

In Australia, Super League-aligned players from the Brisbane Broncos and the Canberra Raiders, two of the eight clubs banned from breaking away from the ARL, are to play a high-profile friendly match in Brisbane this weekend. The ARL has delayed the start of its own season by two weeks.

n The Scottish businessman Bob Jamieson has failed in his bid to take over Workington. His rescue package has been rejected by the club, which is almost pounds 1m in debt.

n The former Great Britain international Graeme Hallas, 25, has re-signed for Halifax after an unsuccessful spell with the ARL.