Andy Burnham has been named the new president of the Rugby Football League.
Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester and former MP for Leigh, takes over from the outgoing Air Commodore Dean Andrew OBE RAF.
An avid fan and Honorary Vice President at Leigh Centurions, he will start the post next July.
He said: “Being asked to represent the proud sport of rugby league is one of the greatest honours I’ve ever been given.
“Over the years, my love of the game has grown and grown – as a sometime player, a touchline dad and an avid supporter of Leigh Centurions. At a time when other sports have become more detached from their communities, rugby league remains rooted in theirs and that community spirit is its great strength.
“Greater Manchester is one of the sport’s greatest heartlands. We have six famous clubs and a grassroots and club structure that is strong. I see it as an important part of my role as Mayor of Greater Manchester to develop the game here and further afield.
“I believe rugby league has huge untapped potential. It is a fantastic sport that builds teamwork, promotes strength of character and brings communities together. This passion needs to be nurtured if we are to develop this great game from grassroots upwards and encourage more people, particularly our younger generation, to get involved.
“I will seek to use my time in the privileged position of president to raise the profile of the sport in any way I can.”