Derek Beaumont has responded to calls from Toulouse Olympique head coach Sylvain Houles for the French club to be exempt from relegation from the Super League. Leigh Centurions owner Beaumont, who has seen his club relegated three times from the Super League during his long tenure, believes they should be treated the same as all other clubs, regardless of his nationality.
Toulouse are currently four points away at the bottom of the Super League and Houles claimed that keeping his club in the Super League was best for business with a view to France hosting the 2025 World Cup.. “For me, any sustainable business, if you want a big World Cup, you’re going to need this,” she said. “I don’t know if they can change the rules, but it is something I would highly recommend in the Super League. If you have two (French) clubs in the Super League in 2025, you will have a good World Cup in France.”
But Beaumont has dismissed those suggestions, insisting promotion and relegation must remain in place. Leigh’s owner was among the supporters of an expanded 14-team Super League, although the proposal was ultimately rejected.
“I would start by asking what his reaction would have been if he had said that when he was trying to take our place in the Super League and the shoe was on the other foot and the same principle applied,” Beaumont said.
“I sympathize with what he says about staying up, but the notion that they are French is completely irrelevant, they shouldn’t be treated any differently to an English club, but I sympathize with the fact that they are a newly promoted team and the only way to staying awake comes with significant risk and cost and sometimes that just isn’t possible I’ve seen it three times and three times they turned their backs on me the first time I think we won a game then we had 8 center backs and I didn’t finish in the background, but still I went down, then we went up on the back of a document and after drafting a championship team, it didn’t work out and we won two games.
“They are finding out how difficult it is and it doesn’t matter if your name is Toulouse, Featherstone, Leigh, Bradford, Halifax or Widnes, it will always be that way.
“But to say that they should get an exemption because they are a French team makes me angry. First of all, we are called Betfred Super League. Betfred cannot advertise on French jerseys and a sixth of our competition is now French.” so that’s a lot of exposure they lose.
“The main investor in the sport, Sky, can’t broadcast or collect any revenue in France, but a sixth of the money from that TV deal goes to France. Third, commercially, they don’t bring fans to our games, there’s zero secondary spending or ticket sales at our individual clubs a lot of our fans have a lot of fun going there on the weekend but people take that trip and pay for it with their disposable income and as a result you could argue they’re not spending it traveling to other clubs or events like this weekend’s Challenge Cup semi-final, Magic Weekend or any of the finals.
He continued: “Then there is the cost of traveling around 30 to 35 thousand and those are the UK teams that travel there or they come here and beyond that, I’m not one to argue about global warming and the footprint carbon, but they could throw it away. So someone please tell me, apart from the fact that our fans are having a decent weekend in France, what is the benefit, and could we even counter that by taking a game there like we did in last.
“In its current format there is no commercial benefit, only commercial negativity. I don’t know of a single sponsor that is doing it to gain exposure in France as a result of it. No one can tell me what is there.”
Beaumont suggested that enhanced French competition might be a more beneficial way of growing the sport.
“Let them build their own Super League and get their top two NRL teams, France and Super League, and have some kind of event that sees them meet at the end of the season like a World Club Challenge that can get bigger.”
“I understand Sylvain saying it, he is fighting for everything he can and they are showing it with the signings they are making and that is the way to do it. But unless he can convince the Super League to increase their number to 13 or 14 teams”. since I did and got nowhere, he might as well put a pin in that balloon.”