Tony Adams: Former Arsenal and England captain named president of the Rugby Football League

The retired defender has been working with rugby league through his Sporting Chance Clinic since 2011 and replaces the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham

Jack de Menezes
Thursday 13 December 2018 08:44
Tony Adams has been named president of the Rugby Football League
Tony Adams has been named president of the Rugby Football League

Former Arsenal and England football captain Tony Adams has been named president of the Rugby Football League from 2019, and will replace outgoing Andy Burnham in the new year.

The 52-year-old has worked alongside the sport through his Sporting Chance Clinic, set up in 2000 to offer welfare programmes that helps athletes with mental health, emotional welfare and addictive issues, which Adams has openly talked about suffering from during his own career.

It is with this in focus that Adams was nominated as the League’s 29th president at Wednesday’s Rugby League Council meeting, replacing the current incumbent Burnham who is also the serving mayor of Greater Manchester.

“It will be an honour to become the next President of the RFL,” Adams said in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon. “I am passionate about working with everyone in the sport to raise the profile of mental health, wellness and resilience, for players and for everyone in Rugby League.

“I’d like to play my part in championing this brilliant sport on the national stage.”

The move is not the first time that Adams has taken a risk by delving into the unknown, having left behind stints as Wycombe Wanderers and Portsmouth manager to take up roles with first Gabala FM in Azerbaijan, and also Spanish side Granada in a doomed effort to save them from relegation.

However, he is most known for his time at Arsenal, where he played 669 times and won four league titles, three FA Cup and two League Cups, as well as the 1994 European Cup Winners’ Cup, before retiring from the game in 2002 as a one-club player.

He also represented his country 66 times between 1987 and 2000, and captain England to the semi-finals of Euro 1996 before being replaced as skipper by Alan Shearer after the tournament by new manager Glenn Hoddle.

Adams won four league titles with Arsenal

Addressing the appointment, RFL chairman Brian Barwick – a former chief executive of the Football Association – said: “Tony Adams is known and respected throughout sport and beyond, not only for his outstanding playing career with Arsenal, but more recently for his pioneering work with Sporting Chance.

“The charity has helped more than 400 rugby league players since the RFL entered into an official partnership with Sporting Chance in 2011, and Tony himself delivered seminars at Wigan and Hull earlier this year.

“The game has recognised the importance of mental health, for players and everyone else involved, and Tony’s election is another significant step in that regard.”

Adams' last managerial role in football came with Granada 

Former Doncaster rugby league player and current club chief executive Carl Hall has been chosen as vice-president to Adams, while the Council also announced that digital sports specialist Chris Hurst will replace outgoing Clare Morrow on the RFL board as a non-executive director, having previously worked with the International Cricket Council, the Premier League and Nielsen Sports.

“I also welcome the election as vice-president of Carl Hall, who has given so much to British rugby league since arriving here from New Zealand 30 years ago,” Barwick added. “This is well-deserved recognition for him, and for the Doncaster club.

“Chris Hurst will be a tremendous asset to the RFL Board. His highly successful career across the world of sport and as a proven leader in the field of modern digital communications will be invaluable in helping us maximise the value and profile of some of the sport’s key properties.

“He has worked in some of the top organisations in sport and broadcasting, and is well networked across both industries. Chris is also a huge advocate for the growth and development of women’s sport as evidenced by his Board membership of the Women’s Sports Trust.”

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