Maurice Lindsay: Ex-RFL chief executive and Wigan Warriors chairman dies, aged 81

Maurice Lindsay with Shaun Edwards
Maurice Lindsay with Wigan great Shaun Edwards during his time as Great Britain team manager

Former Rugby Football League chief executive Maurice Lindsay, who also masterminded Wigan's revival in the 1980s as chairman, has died aged 81.

The businessman, also a former chairman of football club Preston North End, was heavily involved in the creation of Super League in 1996.

Lindsay also had a stint as team manager of the Great Britain rugby league team in the early 1990s.

"He was a truly unique character," RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said.

"He will be remembered as one of the most significant leaders in the sport's history."

As chief executive of the new European Super League in the mid-1990s, Lindsay steered northern hemisphere rugby league into a new era.

He worked with the power brokers of Australia's breakaway Super League and the financial muscle of Rupert Murdoch's Sky broadcasting empire to deliver a game-changing switch to summer rugby.

However, Lindsay's legacy can perhaps be keenest felt in Wigan. After he joined the board in 1980 the club went on to win everything from multiple Challenge Cups and league titles to the World Club Challenge and even the World Sevens.

The Cherry and Whites attracted stars such as Dean Bell, Gene Miles and Brett Kenny from Australia and New Zealand, as well as snapping up the best of British talent in Martin Offiah, Ellery Hanley and Joe Lydon.

Back-rower Denis Betts was another player nurtured by the Wigan club, and became a key figure for club and country.

"I think Maurice is one of those pivotal people," Betts told BBC Radio Manchester. "He was around at certain times when we needed a strong character to change the game which is Super League.

"It was what happened through that period with the negotiations with the Murdoch Group and taking us really into a full-time environment.

"As a director of Wigan and chairman of Wigan I think he was influential and instrumental in transforming the British game."

He had two spells at the helm, in between his role as president and then chief executive at the RFL and his stint with Super League.

"The strength of his personality was critical in their [Wigan's] emergence as arguably the greatest club side of all-time in this country," Rimmer added.

"It dominated domestically and flourished internationally and its impact extended well beyond rugby league.

"Then when he moved to the game's central administration at the RFL, he was the leading figure in driving through the inception of the Super League in 1996, which genuinely transformed the sport."

"Wigan Warriors sends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Maurice at this very sad time," Wigan said in a statement.external-link

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