Wigan Chairman Ian Lenagan Realistic About His Clubs Future

With NRL clubs now turning their attention to Super League players in an effort to boost depth in their squads, many within Super League had the same reaction.

Raise the salary cap.

Forgetting that a handful of clubs have gone belly up in Super League over the last few years with the salary cap set at its current level, the calls to reduce the number of teams in the competition and raise the cap where loud and clear over the last week.

If Super League were to raise the salary cap, they still wouldn’t be able to hold onto players. The money available in the NRL is just too much to compete with under any possible scenario that Super League could come up with.

It was interesting then to read wigan Chairman Ian Lenagan’s comments in regards to the salary cap. He told WiganToday.net that he does not think raising the salary cap is the way to go:

“I don’t think it should go up. I’m perfectly comfortable with it. We’re not having a problem with it.”

“Why would I want to pay more money than we are?”

That second point is something I’ve been saying for a long time. That a lot of players in Super League are simply not worth more money. They are semi professional quality players earning a full time salary from the game.

This is something the NRL itself is having a problem with I believe. As the salary rises our top players are finally getting what they deserve. Under the headliners though, the players that can change a clubs premiership prospects, that can sell tickets, that can boost ratings, we are seeing some players being over paid. In the NRL’s case, the clubs can thankfully afford it. The worst that happens is that they don’t go so well on the field.

For Super League clubs….the stakes are much higher….

Even the most wealthy owner will eventually get sick of pouring money into a club that isn’t winning every year. Then, if they start winning every year, its pretty easy for an owner to lose interest and move on to the next thing that takes their fancy.

The NRL salary cap has risen in a sustainable way. The money NRL clubs are spending is effectively already in the bank. Most Super League clubs can’t afford to spend up to the current salary cap. Raising the Super League salary cap further would be a disaster!

As the man that effectively bankrolls Wigan, Lenagan doesn’t want to see the business model he has set up for the club being completely thrown out the window because someone at the RFL raised the salary cap purely on a kneejerk reaction.

At the end of the day the money simply isn’t there to raise the Super League salary cap.

Wigan fans have every right to be dissapointed to see the club losing so many players. That goes for fans of other Super League clubs as well. Its not nice to see your best players leave your club under any circumstances. It is pretty clear though that some clubs have seen the landscape and are looking to adapt to the new pressures they face to keep players.

Ian Lenagan seems to be leading the way, and I have a feeling that over at St Helens their Chairman Eamonn McManus is thinking along the same lines too. Keep the clubs as competitive as possible under a sustainable business model. Don’t over spend and send yourself into a nose dive as we say at a number of other clubs, including the once all conquoring Bradford Bulls.

You’d much rather have someone at the helm with a realistic outlook than someone that is running around calling for salary cap increases or who simple says “You can’t have my players”.

Until such time as the Rugby Football League can build a Super League competition that is worth a one billion pounds to various British broadcasters, this situation is not going to change. Super League clubs need to learn how to survive hile losing their best players.

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