Rugby League: Lindsay stirs controversy again by finding himself new position of influence

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The Independent Online
Maurice Lindsay, who had lost his credibility as the chief executive of the Rugby Football League, has fallen on his feet again, apparently landing another top job, as Dave Hadfield reports.

Maurice Lindsay has again proved himself the game's great survivor by being pushed out of one top job in the sport only to be poised to leap sideways into another.

Lindsay, chief executive of the Rugby Football League for the last five years, was asked for his resignation by the RFL's chairman, Sir Rodney Walker, at a meeting of the code's board of directors this week.

That seemed to mark the demise of a man who has dominated the administration of the game since he masterminded the rise of Wigan in the 1980s. But, within hours, Lindsay was lined up with a new job as managing director of Super League (Europe) - the elite competition he was instrumental in launching when the game in Britain accepted an pounds 87m television deal with Rupert Murdoch in 1995 - subject to the approval of Super League clubs at a meeting next Friday.

Lindsay weathered the controversy over the Super League revolution, but after an unhappy 1997 - which included an invedstigation into accusations over his expenses which produced no evidence, alleged mismanagement of development funds and a near miss in his bid to become chairman of the Tote - he was told at Wednesday's meeting that he no longer commanded the confidence of clubs nor of his staff at league headquarters.

There could also be legitimate concern over whether he is the best person to negotiate with a newly reunified game in Australia.

"I can confirm that a discussion took place which involved the board," said Sir Rodney, who last year headed a working party on the running of the game, which heard criticism of Lindsay from all quarters. "Subsequently, there was a meeting between Chris Caisley, the chairman of Super League (Europe), and Mr Lindsay, which resulted in him standing down as chief executive of the RFL."

Those who were determined to get rid of Lindsay are angry now that he has apparently found a bolt hole, in the shape of what could yet prove to be an equally influential job. It was in the light of those misgivings that a statement announcing his move to Super League as a fait accompli was withdrawn soon after being issued yesterday.

That new job now hinges on convincing the clubs that he can work effectively alongside Super League's chief executive, Colin Myler, based in London.

However it all resolves itself, it is an appropriately messy ending to his five turbulent years at the helm of the game as a whole. He will be replaced, at least in the short term, by his articulate and well-respected No 2, Neil Tunnicliffe, but the League may well look outside the game for a successor.

From within the game, David Howes and Gary Hetherington, chief executives at St Helens and Leeds respectively, could emerge as candidates, while Brian Smith, the former coach and chief executive at Bradford who is now coaching in Australia, would be a strong overseas contender.

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