Leigh owner Derek Beaumont insists Centurions will bring value to Super League
Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont insists Super League isn’t retracting by choosing them to replace Toronto Wolfpack next year.
The Centurions were yesterday named as the competition’s 12th club for 2021 after an application process that also involved Toulouse, London, York, Bradford and Featherstone.
The decision attracted criticism from fans who see it as an end to expansion of the game in the northern hemisphere following Toronto’s dramatic demise this year.
But Beaumont – who was a director in Leigh’s first season in Super League in 2005 and then owner for their second 12 years later – is convinced the Centurions can bring worth to the league.
Beaumont said: “People talk about, ‘What value do you add?’ – we averaged more than 6,500 and took on average 1,042 to away games in 2017, and those fans spent money. We beat Wigan, Warrington, St Helens and Hull, so we added value and have a great facility.
“I’m for growing the game but we’ve got to do it right and if the fans are in the heartlands, that’s where they’re at.
“We’ve got to grow the game by building it up from the bottom, like Newcastle are doing – that will then have longevity.
“All this going to Canada, that needs to start there itself and grow there then interact with us. It doesn’t work any other way.”
Beaumont admitted he thought former Super League champions Bradford would be in pole position for the vacant spot after reading the criteria.
But Conservative peer Lord Jonathan Caine, who chaired the seven-person independent panel that made the decision, said Leigh was the unanimous choice.
The club now has three months to complete a competitive squad ahead of the March 11 restart date, and must do so with around £500,000 less central funding than the other 11 clubs.
But Beaumont – a self-made millionaire whose business sells outdoor decking – is expected to finance a recruitment push that adds to an already full-time squad including former Super League players Ben Flower, Joe Mellor and Matty Russell.
Leigh have been linked with audacious moves for superstars Benji Marshall and Ben Barba over the last 12 months and their coach John Duffy is confident they can avoid relegation.
Duffy said: “I think we’ll stay up – we’ve got the right people at the club now and we know the areas we need to bring in.”