Rugby League: Executive job for Lindsay

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MAURICE LINDSAY, sometime chairman of Wigan and the driving force behind their domination of the game in Britain, has promised to bring the same energy to his new role as chief executive of the Rugby League. Lindsay, whose appointment was confirmed yesterday, will take over from David Oxley on 1 November.

'It will be absolutely necessary for me to sever my connections with Wigan and dispose of my financial holding in the club,' he said. 'Wigan will be treated in the same way as any other club.'

It is Lindsay's record in 12 years on the Wigan board, however, that has projected him into the job, which has been held by only four predecessors since the split from rugby union in 1895.

He recalled yesterday how the club was on the brink of closure when he arrived in 1980. The progress from that position to the point where Wigan now make news if they lose a match in any competition is something for which he has rightly been given much of the credit.

Lindsay said that he will bring the same business instincts - he is a successful bookmaker as well as having built and sold a thriving plant hire company - to the League's headquarters in Leeds. 'There will be a change of style,' he said. 'David Oxley has been the most articulate and presentable administrator in any sport in the country. My business background means that I am bound to approach the job in a different way.'

Lindsay spoke of the need for more financial realism in the game but denied that he would be dictating policy to member clubs. 'People seeing how strong I have been at Wigan might expect me to be a bit of a despot, but they may be pleasantly surprised,' he said.

Lindsay, who is 51, could stay in office until the age of 60. He plans to move to the Leeds area and give up the role of Great Britain manager after the World Cup final against Australia on 24 October. 'I will need to give my full attention to this job and the challenges it involves,' he said.

Ironically, the measure of his success could be the extent to which his beloved Wigan are caught and overtaken by the swarm of clubs who currently envy their pre-eminence.