Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont on 'grim' picture for club

Derek Beaumont 'was happy to avoid some of the limelight' during happier times for Leigh Centurions. Picture: Paul McCarthy
Derek Beaumont 'was happy to avoid some of the limelight' during happier times for Leigh Centurions. Picture: Paul McCarthy

Leigh Centurions’ owner Derek Beaumont has claimed the RFL are ‘nervous’ about him withdrawing financial support for the club.

With no coach in place and only a handful of contracted players ahead of the release of next season’s Championship fixtures, the club’s professional status is still at risk.

And Beaumont took aim at two players who are believed to have refused to renegotiate their full-time contracts, which he says is threatening the survival of the club.

“There's no way it can survive if it's got to pay two players full time," Beaumont told BBC Radio Manchester.

"We face action from two players and it's up to them what they do next. I hope they accept the offers from me and hopefully we can rebuild over the next two or three years.

"It has been horrendous. You have to look at the whole picture and it's grim. I was hopeful I could strip everything back and strip the club back. There are two players we haven't been able to do that with which has put the club in a difficult situation.

"When 40 per cent of your playing budget would be taken up by those two players, that you're trying to arrange to move on, it leaves very small amount of money to recruit 20 players.

"We have put responsible budgets forward to the RFL. They are nervous my backing has been removed. I think some sense will be shown soon.”

Beaumont, who oversaw Leigh’s rise to Super League in 2016, announced he would withdraw his backing after their failure to reach the Qualifiers last term following their relegation back to the Championship.

He voiced his disappointment - and took responsibility for the club’s failings on the field last term - and said he would give any new investors a clean slate. But he also stated his disillusionment with rugby league as a whole.

"I have put a lot of time and effort and money into this so I'm bitterly disappointed,” he said.

“It has to be down to recruitment which I take responsibility for.

"The responsibility lies with me. I own the club and the decisions rest with me. If they don't do that, it lies with me. I took a lot of positives and enjoyment out of success when we achieved that and I was happy to avoid some of that limelight.

"If someone does want to make a significant investment I will write off the loans and give them the chance to achieve more than I did. There is a lot in the sport I am not comfortable with - with franchising and TV deals. I am a bit disillusioned with the game as a whole."

But so far no potential investors have come forward, and as a result Beaumont says no new recruits can be made.

"I am still the owner and majority shareholder. As long as that remains in place I have a responsibility to that. Nobody has come forward. The club may have serious issues. The club is operating in special measures which mean I can't appoint a coach or sign players,” he said.

"We are stuck in the middle of the deep blue sea at the minute. I would be prepared to step aside if someone comes forward and brings some investment. The people who are there at the moment have a lot of skills and knowledge and know what they are doing.

"When players enter contracts as in business do they should be met. There are two sides to this. I feel let down. There is no way that Leigh Centurions can survive as a business if it has to pay two players on full-time contracts. If not we will be no better than amateurs.

"I will make sure Leigh Centurions continues in whatever vein I can."