Wigan's chairman determined to stay

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The Independent Online
Rugby League


Wigan's beleaguered chairman, Jack Robinson, is insisting that he will not resign over allegations of an attempt to defraud a local newspaper.

Robinson is under investigation by the police over accusations of an attempt to gain damages from the weekly Wigan Observer by concocting a story that a transfer deal taking Neil Cowie to Leeds had broken down because of an article in the paper.

Wigan are suing the paper over a story which wrongly identified Cowie as one of the players involved in alleged drunken antics in Tenerife before the side's Challenge Cup defeat by Salford.

Leeds, furious at being implicated in a possible fraud, were eager to distance themselves from Wigan yesterday. "I want to make it clear that we never made a bid for Neil Cowie and never expressed any interest in signing him," Alf Davies, the club's chief executive, said.

Although he is saying no more at present, Davies has declared himself willing to assist in enquiries into a matter that has serious implications for the game in Britain and its leading club.

Wigan, under Robinson's chairmanship, have dominated all domestic trophies, but have run into well-publicised financial problems over the last six months.

"If I did quit it would leave the door open for a takeover and probably the end of Wigan rugby league club as we know it," he said. Robinson added that the allegations against him contained "serious inaccuracies" and that he had been heartened by fans and shareholders pleading with him not to resign.

Super League in Australia has failed to win a reprieve from the court order banning it from starting before the turn of the century, but the 311 players signed to play for the rebel competition will not have to rejoin the rival Australian .

An application for a stay of orders halting Super League was rejected by a bench of three judges in Sydney, but their decision that the players are not yet legally obliged to return is a serious blow to the ARL.

The Australian game's victorious governing body is to kick off its delayed competition - to be known as the Optus Cup - on 22 March, but it now looks certain to be without players of the stature of Bradley Clyde, Laurie Daley and Allan Langer.

They have all vowed not to return to the ARL and several have discussed the possibility of playing rugby union or Australian rules. Playing in Britain could be an option for some, including Clyde, who is being actively pursued by Warrington.

News Limited, which is backing Super League in both Australia and Europe, has claimed its limited success in court yesterday as "a major boost".

It has also been given leave to appeal against the main order and still hopes that a quick and successful outcome could allow Super League to start up this summer.