Ellery Hanley MBE is to chair a panel of Rugby League greats in a radical revamp of the voting system to determine Super League’s most prestigious individual honour, the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel.
Hanley is the only man to have won the award three times – in 1985, 1987 and 1989 – since it was introduced in 1977, and renamed in 2014 in honour of Steve Prescott, the former St Helens, Hull FC and Wakefield Trinity full-back who fought such an inspirational battle after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
The panel will consist of 21 former players and coaches including former Men of Steel, and boasting a combined total of 46 Championship or Grand Final wins, 41 Challenge Cup winners’ medals – and sharing the common distinction of having made more than 200 career appearances.
Hanley attended today’s official launch of the 2019 Betfred Super League season at Old Trafford, which will stage the 22nd Grand Final on Saturday October 12 – with full details of the panel to be unveiled next month.
A member of the panel will watch each Betfred Super League game in 2019 and award points to the three outstanding players: 3 points for their chosen man of the match, 2 for the runner-up, and 1 for the third-ranked player.
The scores will be made public every week from the first round of the season – which begins with the St Helens v Wigan blockbuster next Thursday night (January 31) – until Round 22 in mid-July. After that, the poll will be hidden until the Awards Ceremony in October. Further details of that event will be released throughout the 2019 Betfred Super League season.
Robert Elstone, the Super League Chief Executive, said: “We’re delighted to able to announce a new, refreshed voting system for the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel award.
“Rugby League was a pioneer in introducing the Man of Steel title more than 40 years ago, recognising the importance of celebrating the players who give so much to make the sport special.
“Who better, in that regard, to chair our new panel than Ellery Hanley MBE? A true great of the game, whose name still resonates well beyond it, and who is held in complete respect by the modern generation of players.
“Ellery will lead a panel with outstanding credentials. Its unrivalled and extensive knowledge and experience will underpin the award’s credibility and by sharing the votes after each round, we will create interest and talkability all the way through to awards night.
“We’d like to thank all of those involved in the new process and look forward to seeing the battle for the game’s ultimate individual award unfold over the course of the 2019 Betfred Super League season.”
Yesterday the 2019 Betfred Super League fixtures were confirmed, and Salford Red Devils will start the season away at Huddersfield Giants before hosting newly promoted London Broncos.
The Chief Executive of Super League Europe, Robert Elstone, is excited to see a new chapter in the competition’s history begin.
Elstone said: “The 2019 season will mark a change of direction for the Super League, and the start of exciting new beginnings.
“We want our fans to be really excited about that first weekend, and how better to do that than with a Saints-Wigan derby, pitting the champions against their local rivals who were also last year’s League Leaders? And then to follow it up with a Hull derby?
“We’re equally excited about the extra Saturday games which our broadcast partners at Sky Sports are showing in the early stages of the season, allowing the drama of the opening round of matches to unfold throughout the weekend.
“Throw in the World Club Challenge between Wigan Warriors and the Sydney Roosters, the unique appeal and challenge of Super League’s Easter weekend – and of course the season builds to a real climax with the battle for places in the Top Five Play-Offs, building to the Betfred Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford.”
You can view all Salford Red Devils 2019 Betfred Super League fixtures HERE.
Salford Red Devils would like to make its position clear following yesterday’s Super League Europe press conference introducing new CEO Robert Elstone.
Salford are supportive of the Super League’s new initiatives and indeed support all positive change at the elite level of our sport.
It is the view of the Club that Super League must adapt to the rapidly moving sporting landscape in order to increase its awareness and revenues and to remain competitive.
It is crucial however that stakeholders at all levels benefit from the growth in the sport and this can only be achieved by working in a collaborative and professional manner.
This Thursday evening sees the first game in the Betfred Super League since Super’s League’s structural changes were announced, as the Red Devils look to get back to winning ways against Widnes Vikings.
New Super League Chief Executive, Robert Elstone, said the competition has something special to build on as he met the media for the first time today.
Elstone started as the new CEO for the Betfred Super League last week and spoke at a press conference at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, home of Warrington Wolves.
The former Everton Chief Executive, who has a wealth of experience in sporting organisations, said:
“When I met all the clubs for the first time three or four weeks ago, I started by thanking them for putting their trust in me. This is the job I’ve always wanted. It might have been the only job that took me away from a great football club like Everton. It’s a job I’m honoured to hold and a job I’m excited to fulfill.
“From the first day I could really understand it, I’ve loved this sport; what it stands for and what it’s all about. I have sold its virtues and defended its name to anyone and everyone prepared to listen. And plenty didn’t, particularly when you’ve spent most of your life in Barnsley and Bramhall.
“In my impressionable teenage years, two teams inspired me; Malcolm Reilly’s Castleford team of the mid-late 70s and of course, the 1982 Kangaroos. I had the good fortune to be a student in Hull at the time and the Kangaroos were the reason, three months after qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, that I travelled to Sydney, put my career on hold, and went on a two-year tour of Australian Rugby League. On the way home, I cut short a round the world trip to get back to Cas for their game against the 1990 tourists.
“People will challenge me to define my vision for Super League. I don’t find that difficult. We all want, and we all need, a vibrant, sustainable, competitive and compelling Super League, one that sits at the heart of our communities, one that brings communities together, one that makes fans of our game proud.
“The challenge is how we achieve that. That’s about leadership, unity, and a committed and focused group of people who will roll their sleeves up and make things happen. It’s also about being positive and realising we have something special in our clubs, our fans, our players and the game we play.
“The job starts by establishing a positive working relationship with the RFL that respects Super League’s responsibility to the whole game, and challenges the RFL to provide the highest standards of governance for Super League.
“It quickly looks at replacing a competition format that isn’t working. That’s creating too much uncertainty for clubs and fans.
“It then focuses very clearly what matters, on growth; bringing in and retaining new fans; bringing in and retaining new partners; rewarding the fans and partners that come with us. Our biggest priority has to be to better fill our stadia.
“When at last year’s Man of Steel, Fred Done says we are the best sport he’s worked with; when Air Commodore Dean Andrew says our players are the closest athletes he’s ever met to his elite soldiers; when Scott Quinnell at the end of Magic says, ‘I love these people’, we have something special to build on.”
Super League (Europe) is delighted to confirm the appointment of Robert Elstone as its new Chief Executive.
Elstone, who started on 4th June, brings a passion for Rugby League and a wealth of experience gained from several Senior Executive and Board positions across different sporting organisations including most recently, Chief Executive of Everton Football Club.
His appointment is Super League’s first major step into a new era. He will have a focus on growth, prosperity and success of the Game’s leading clubs and will aim to improve the promotion, marketing and selling of the best possible competition.
Elstone said: “I would like to thank the Super League clubs for giving me the opportunity to shape the future of a sport I have watched and loved for as long as I can remember. I can’t wait to get started and I’m ready to apply all my energies and experience to drive the Betfred Super League forward.
“Like so many sports, we face many challenges. However, we take with us a greater number of much sought-after advantages and attributes, not least our players, our fans, our great clubs and the heritage and values of a fantastic sport. If we can bring all that together I’m confident that the Game can look forward to a bigger and better future.”
Having studied Economics at Hull University and captained its Rugby League team to success in both the Universities’ Cup and Championship, he qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Deloitte. He continued his accountancy career in Sydney for two years, before returning to the UK and taking up a position at the RFL supporting its Chief Executive with roles on the 1995 World Cup, the formation of Super League and the first year of the brave venture into France, with PSG Rugby League.
Elstone returned to Deloitte and joined the highly-rated Sports Business Group, at its formation. Whilst at Deloitte, he advised some of the biggest clubs and Leagues in world sport. He then joined Sky to head up its Football Business Affairs team charged with capitalizing on the media and commercial rights acquired at four leading football clubs.
Elstone joined Everton in 2005 as Chief Operating Officer, but, after impressing the club’s Board of Directors, was confirmed Chief Executive in 2009 and a Director in 2016. Elstone, who represents the club at senior Premier League meetings, has seen the club adopt a clear community and fan-led philosophy, pioneer an envied fan-engagement strategy and secure substantial commercial growth through record-breaking new sponsorship deals. Much of his work over recent years has been on the club’s new stadium project, acquiring land, developing designs and securing a substantial element of the funding required to bring the development to fruition.
Elstone added: “At the heart of the Premier League’s success is compelling football played by some of the world’s best players in great stadia that are almost always full. And, whilst there are many obvious economic differences, it is the quality of the product that has underpinned its appeal and growth. Super League needs to start at that same point by investing and improving what we offer to fans, partners and broadcasters. That’s a big scope, which includes formats, calendars, rules, refereeing, facilities and player development and I’m looking forward to working with the Super League clubs, and building a team around me, firstly to determine that way forward but, most importantly, to begin to make it happen.”
Chairman of Super League (Europe), Brian Barwick, said: “I am delighted to welcome Robert back into the sport. He is a great enthusiast of Rugby League and has also worked extensively in the wider business of professional sport.
“The combination of those two assets should prove to be very positive for the ongoing development of the Betfred Super League. Senior Rugby Football League colleagues look forward to working with Robert and I wish him much success in his new role.”