Rugby League: Defiant Lindsay delays departure

AS EVER, reports of the imminent departure from the game of Maurice Lindsay have proved to be exaggerated.

The managing director of Super League (Europe) faced clubs yesterday amid rumours that he was on his way out in order to concentrate on his racing interests, which increased in importance when he paid over pounds 200,000 for a string of bookmaking stands last month.

Lindsay is on his way out, but only on his own terms. He confirmed that he is to retire from his current position at the end of this season at the latest. But he will stay on as an unpaid non-executive director, with special responsibility for television contracts and expansion strategy. He will thus hang on to two of the most important levers of power.

Nor is it clear that any single, equally powerful, figure will emerge. In a reshuffle of responsibilities, Leeds' Gary Hetherington will become the organisation's football director, John Smith, also of Leeds, its finance director, with Chris Caisley of Bradford remaining as chairman.

Lindsay's other functions will be redistributed internally; if that process goes smoothly he could choose to bow out before the end of the season, but denies that his racing activities will make that necessary.

"I've been involved in rugby league for 20 years and I've worked for the game every day of that time," he said. "But it is a young man's game for administrators now and it is time for me to enter a new phase."

It is now clear that the new phase will not involve melting quietly into the background, even if it means creating a new role for him - the second time that has happened, following the invention of the job of managing director when Lindsay was ousted from the Rugby League in 1997.

The Super League meeting also made significant changes in the working of the salary cap. In future, clubs will be allowed to spend either 51 per cent of their income or pounds 1m, whichever is the greater, on players' wages. If they break those limits, however, they could be deducted competition points and prize money.

The former Great Britain coach, Malcolm Reilly, has been added to the think-tank charged with raising standards in the game. Reilly, now at Huddersfield, is to sit on the League's strategic planning executive.

The coach Clive Griffiths and manager Mike Nicholas are to continue coaching the Welsh national side until the end of next year. Griffiths is director of rugby at London Welsh, but has a clause in his contract releasing him to work with the Welsh rugby league side.

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