Shock as Centurions chairman resigns

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THE shock resignation of Leigh Centurions Chairman Arthur Thomas has rocked the club.

Thomas, who has been Leigh Chairman since 2007, issued a press release on Monday in which he said: “I feel I have taken the club as far as I can.

“I leave the club in a good position both on and off the field and it’s now time for someone else to take over and lead the club to Super League.

“I’m going to enjoy my retirement watching Leigh Centurions and wish the club well in the future.”

To the fans this will have come as a bolt out of the blue and immediately will have raised concerns not only about the club’s direction but also the tenure of Centurions coach, Ian Millward.

Thomas was hugely instrumental in bringing Millward to the club for the start of the 2010 campaign.

With Super League club Salford City Reds now looking for a new first team coach following the departure of Shaun McRae on health grounds, speculation is rife that the Leigh coach will be their number one target.

But Millward is not being drawn into such speculation.

“I have a job to do at Leigh,” he said. “We are top of the table, unbeaten in eight league games and in the semi final of the Northern Rail Cup. We have all worked long and hard to achieve this position, but we have a lot of hard work to do.

“I am flattered that people are linking me with the Salford job, but they (Salford) are going through a process of their own and I can categorically say that I have not applied for the job.

“Arthur’s departure has come as a shock, but he will have his own reasons, and we all have to view this, not as a setback, but as an opportunity. Arthur has done a tremendous job, but now there is an opportunity for someone to come in and take it on to the next level and maybe bring in some fresh ideas.

“With so many good, prominent businessmen in the town, it has to be a great chance for them to get involved with a club that is going places and to take a leading role in being part of a very exciting journey indeed.

“Super League is our goal, and the excitement that is being generated on the field can be matched off the field if Arthur’s successor wants to step forward and meet that challenge. It is a disappointment to lose Arthur but to take on his legacy is an opportunity that the club and the fans cannot miss. We need to keep the momentum going for what will be a great ride!”

Just who would step forward to take on the chairman’s role has to be determined, but it is understood that Allan Rowley will continue in the Chief Executive’s role.

The current Leigh Board members are Tony Beevers, Brian Beswick, Phil Coffey, Keith Freer, Stephen Grainey and Arthur’s son, Darren Thomas. Just who will take over as chairman for the immediate future has yet to be decided.