Former Swinton Lions Chairman believes that the recent resignations of board members has caused the RFL to worry, leading to the team being put under ‘special measures’.
Andy Mazey, who took over the club in 2017, recently left the board along with six other members, after facing backlash to changing the club’s name from the ‘Swinton Lions’ to the ‘Manchester Lions’.
Mazey believes that these special measures have been put in place to make sure that the club will be sustainable in the 2020 season after the departure of most of the board, including himself and leaving only Stephen Wild to run the club.
📝 STATEMENT | Following the press reports that Swinton Lions has been placed in special measures, the club wishes to issue the following statement.
— Swinton Lions RLFC (@Swinton_Lions) October 2, 2019
“We were going to rebrand the club for the 2020 season as the ‘Manchester Lions’. We put a proposal together, but it received a lot of resistance. A number of supporters voiced against it, there was some resistance from Salford Council and Salford’s mayor put out a public letter against it.
“The club has been outside of Swinton for 27 years. It’s a difficult situation to try and market and sell a club that’s not playing in the town. The name’s ‘Swinton’ but it’s Swinton in name only because we’re not playing in Swinton.”
The ex-Chairman believed that the name change would help the club grow, saying that cities with teams are likely to have more opportunities for the club and believed that members of the board saw it as a chance to ‘align the club with the future direction of the sport’.
“It was an opportunity to really commercialise it [the club] and really sell it and market it because the difficulties we had as Swinton being outside of Swinton made it virtually impossible to do anything more than we were already doing.
He went onto to say that the aim of the board that was put in place after his takeover two years ago was to expand the team’s potential and get them playing against ‘the elite’ clubs.
Photo credit: Emma Gunn
Despite being put under these ‘special measures’, Mazey believes the club will survive with the funding received after for their 9th place finish last year. However, he does think the club could struggle with the direction of the sport due to the money for television rights and stated that his board was put in place to combat that.
“There’s a Sky TV contract which funds the sport, and that deal is done in two years’ time. There is a general feeling amongst clubs and amongst the media that the funding will reduce significantly or go altogether. That is the time where clubs like Swinton will really struggle.
“My biggest fear for Swinton is that, although they will survive in the short term, they aren’t in a position to survive in the long term.”
Stating that his board knew of this situation, they were heading in a direction to make the club financially stable and therefore be able to counter this lack of funding. Despite still caring for the club, Mazey stated he would no longer be attending fans meeting in the immediate future.