Derek Beaumont: Leigh Centurions future in doubt amid player contract dispute
Leigh Centurions’ future as a professional club remains at risk while a dispute continues with two contracted players, says owner Derek Beaumont.
Beaumont, who scaled back his financial involvement when Leigh failed to reach the Qualifiers group, has attempted to cut costs to match central funding.
Currently, the club has no players, no coach and is under special measures.
“There’s no way it can survive if it’s got to pay two players full time,” Beaumont told BBC Radio Manchester.
“When 40% 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.
“If I gave a coach that money they’d be in League One the following year.”
Under Beaumont, Leigh enjoyed a rapid rise – winning the Championship and then returning to Super League with success in the Qualifiers.
However, defeat in the Million Pound Game saw them tumble out of the league and, most importantly, lose the full top-flight funding.
Beaumont honoured the contracts of those that stayed in a bid to complete an immediate return, but failure to reach the top four resulted in the changes.
The special measures, set by the Rugby Football League, mean Beaumont is unable to sign players, and the uncertainty around the club’s future makes it impossible for him to appoint a head coach.
Only ending the financial dispute with the players, who have so far rejected the settlement offer to end their contracts, would allow the sanctions to be lifted.
Should the issues not be settled, there is a concern the club could fold.
“There was action brought against the club which has expired,” Beaumont added. “I’m just waiting to see if that’s the way it will go [through the courts] and if it does, the one will thing I will make sure is that Leigh Centurions continues in whatever vein.
“If it does have to start again because it can’t honour contracts that are too much, I will feel some personal responsibility towards that.”
Beaumont publicly maintained the club was up for sale once it was revealed Leigh would no longer be in with a shout of promotion back to Super League.
However, there have been no offers so far and as such, the club’s holding company Sporting Club Leigh remains in his control.
“If someone wants to come in and has a vision and a dream and wants to put money in to make Leigh a Super League club, I’ll write off my loans and be delighted to see that happen,” he continued.
“I’m a fan and have always been a fan and want to see what’s best for the club.”