Super League’s new chief executive Robert Elstone will use his Premier League experience “investing and improving” what the competition offers as he takes control of the elite division.
The Yorkshireman was Everton’s CEO before leaving last month and starting up his new role at Super League on Monday.
Although his appointment has long been known, it has only today been confirmed and he outlined his plans via a press release - formulated by the clubs not the RFL - which said it was ‘Super League’s first major step into a new era.’
Elstone, who hails from Barnsley and is a former board member at Castleford Tigers, said: “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.”
Elstone's remit will include a focus on the 'growth, prosperity and success' of the sport's leading clubs and will aim to 'improve the promotion, marketing and selling of the best possible competition.'
Having studied Economics at Hull University and captained its rugby league team to success in both the Universities’ Cup and Championship, Elstone 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 its venture into France, with Paris St-Germain Rugby League.
Elstone, who succeeds Roger Draper who left in January, has also worked for Sports Business Group and Sky where he headed up their Football Business Affairs team charged with capitalizing on the media and commercial rights acquired at four leading football clubs.
He joined Everton in 2005 as Chief Operating Officer, but, after impressing the club’s Board of Directors, was confirmed Chief Executive in 2009 and then as a director three years ago.
Super League now have greater powers over their own destiny after RFL chief executive Nigel Wood was ousted from their board last winter meaning Elstone, in theory, holds greater sway than his predecessor Draper.
Striking the next television deal will be high on his agenda and he added: "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.”
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.”