Another dissenting voice made itself heard in rugby league’s power struggle yesterday as Doncaster owner and chief executive Carl Hall tore into Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan, accusing him of trying to run the sport.
Warriors chief Lenagan has emerged as a leading protagonist in the revolt against the Rugby Football League’s restructuring plans, which have now been put on hold until after the World Cup after Wednesday’s Extraordinary General Meeting was cancelled.
The game is currently in a state of limbo as clubs await news on what the future holds – particularly in terms of promotion and relegation – and after Lenagan spoke out on Monday, opposition voices have started to be heard.
Halifax’s Michael Steele condemned rival chairmen as “self-centred” on Wednesday, with Hall going one step further.
In a statement he said: “Who the hell does Ian Lenagan think he is?
“Like all of us, he has known about this for 12 months. The RFL has been consulting with the clubs at meetings after meetings, and we’re all fully aware of what’s been going on.
“Then at the eleventh hour before the council meeting, Mr Lenagan goes and puts things in the paper as if he knows nothing.
“He’s supposed to be a businessman – has he been going to these meetings, or has he been sending people from the club who haven’t informed him?”
Hall, whose Doncaster side were expecting a return to promotion and relegation – a move which would open Super League’s currently-closed door to them – went on to suggest Lenagan was never so forceful when with former club London.
“Ian Lenagan is the chairman and owner at Wigan, a very successful club that is winning trophies. If he wants to run the Rugby League, then he should leave Wigan and try and do that,” Hall added.
“When he was at Harlequins nobody knew who he was, and he wasn’t shouting his mouth off then. For him to have that meeting called off at the last hour and say that he hasn’t been informed about anything is nonsense. We were all ready to go to the council meeting.
“I own my club as well, and now we have no idea what’s going to happen next year. We have been recruiting players to play at a certain level, and who is he to interfere with that? I thought Rugby League people were family people, with morals.
“But here we have somebody who wants to have secret meetings with clubs, cherry picking the ones he can control. He has his own club to control – he shouldn’t be trying to run the whole game.”
Mark Sawyer, of Dewsbury Rams, was not entirely supportive of the proposed changes – which were essentially to bring in two divisions of 12 – but was happy to go along with the governing body.
“As a club, we were disappointed in the RFL Council Meeting being cancelled,” he said.
“The whole game proposal which was to be put in front of us may not be 100 per cent perfect for Dewsbury Rams RLFC. However, as a club we were completely convinced it was in the interest of the whole game – top to bottom.”
Lenagan declined to comment when contacted yesterday.