Maurice Lindsay (rugby league)

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Maurice Lindsay is the former chairman of Preston North End FC and of Wigan Rugby League F.C. and had two stints at the club after being one of the 'Gang of Four' directors that used to run the club when it domininated the league in the 1980s.

Career[edit]

Lindsay was the owner of a contractors plant hire company as well as a bookmaker when he came to Wigan in 1980 to join Jack Robinson, Tom Rathbone & Jack Hilton. This led to an upsurge in the fortunes of the club. Wigan became one of the first teams to turn professional in the league and from that point on dominated the scene winning an impressive eight League Championships, between 1987–95, as well as a record eight consecutive Challenge Cup wins between 1988-95 as well as five Lancashire Cups and three World Club Championships.

Lindsay was directly responsible for some of the recruitment in that time frame, bringing players to the club who later went on to become legends such as Dean Bell, Andrew Farrell, Andy Goodway, Andy Platt, Brett Kenny, Denis Betts, Ellery Hanley, Frano Botica, Joe Lydon, Jason Robinson, Martin Offiah, Mick Cassidy.

During his time at the club, Lindsay became team manager of the Great Britain RL team. He was manager when the team toured New Zealand in 1990 and Australia in 1992. He was also elected as President of the Rugby Football League in 1992.

Lindsay left the club for a while and became the Chief Executive of the RFL in 1992, proposing the Super League which eventually replaced the Big League as the sport's main competition from 1996 onwards. In 1996, he also became Chairman of the Rugby League International Board which at the time, was at odds with the Australian Rugby League.[1] Lindsay left the RFL to become the Chief Executive of the newly formed Super league (Europe) Ltd. in February 2008. This followed an acrimonious period and in-fighting within the league divisions including an attempt to unseat the Chairman of the RFL, Sir Rodney Walker. Relations between Lindsay and Sir Rodney had deteriorated but the leading clubs wanted Lindsay to assume control of the newly formed Super League. Lindsay immediately secured a new lucrative TV contract exclusively for Super League. He remained at Super League until he voluntarily retired at the end of 1999.[2]

Lindsay had joined the club after it had moved from Central Park to the JJB Stadium after a buy-out from Dave Whelan which led to both the rugby team and the local soccer team, Wigan Athletic moving to the JJB. The club's dominance had come under threat now that the league had gone fully professional and the introduction of the salary cap and 20/20 ruling (now 20/25) which meant the club at the time had only won two Super League titles since 1996.

With the return of Maurice Lindsay the club won one Challenge Cup, under the stewardship of Stuart Raper in 2002, reaching the finals of the Super League in 2000, 2001 & 2003, losing on each occasion.

This was seen as unacceptable by the Wigan board, and Lindsay in particular who had in total seven coaches at the club after his return with Andy Goodway, Frank Endacott, Stuart Raper, Denis Betts & Ian Millward all losing their jobs due to poor performances. (Mike Gregory was given leave due to an illness from which he later died.)

The club had a stark fall in its league position in recent years, with 2005 seeing the club fail to reach the top six for the first time ever in Super League and the 2006 season seeing the club rooted to the bottom of the league for most of the season before the sacking of Ian Millward and the acquisition of Brian Noble from Bradford saved the club's plight.

A lot of the club's fans were aggrieved with the way Lindsay ran the club in his second stint, believing that he was still "living in the '80s" and that he should leave.

Due to the increasing pressure on Lindsay from the fans for him to step down he offered to resign immediately from the board but later agreed to stay on until the end of the season, he released a statement on the 30 July 2007 which cited a disappointment of missing out on reaching the new Wembley for the Challenge Cup and ill health as the reasons for stepping down. It was also said that Dave Whelan, the club's owner persuaded Lindsay to remain until the end of the season but may be looking to sell the club himself.[3]

During the weekend on which the Challenge Cup final was scheduled to take place, Lindsay was taken to hospital after the club's doctor told him he needed urgent medical attention due to a perforated gall bladder which needed operating on.[4] Lindsay was ordered by his doctor not to attend his final ever match at the JJB Stadium as chairman of Wigan, a match which saw Wigan defeat their closest rivals St. Helens 20-12 in order to grab the last available place in the 2007 engage Super League play-offs. New owner & chairman Ian Lenagan took official control on 1 December 2007.

When Lindsay returned for his second stint at Wigan in 2000, he was subsequently put on to the Wigan Athletic Football Club board by Dave Whelan. At the same time, Whelan placed 2 Wigan Athletic directors on the Wigan RLFC board. Maurice still remains on the Wigan Athletic board and represents the club on the powerful shareholders committee of the FA Premier League. In 2008 the FA Premier League elected Lindsay onto the FA Council where he still remains.

In February 2009, Lindsay became Chairman of Racecourse Data Technologies Ltd (RDT), where he remains today. RDT have contracts to supply and support computerised betting systems to every racecourse in the UK and Ireland. The company holds contracts with Satellite Information Services Ltd (SiS) and Turf TV to supply data. RDT have subsequently secured an important contract with the British Horseracing Authority to act as contractors in support of their race day computer operations.

It was announced on 21 June 2010 that Lindsay replaced Derek Shaw as chairman of Preston North End F.C..

Lindsay resigned as Chairman of Preston North End in December 2011 after battling septicaemia following knee surgery.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hadfield, David (1996-10-05). "Murdoch wins Super League battle in Australia". Independent, The (independent.co.uk). Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  2. ^ Dave Hadfield (1998-01-29). "League's cease-fire is over as superpowers prepare for War". The Independent. Retrieved 2007-08-30. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Maurice Lindsay Announces His Intention to Step Down at the End of this Season". Wigan Warriors Official Website. 2007-07-30. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  4. ^ "Maurice Lindsay Hospitalised Over the Weekend". Wigan Warriors Official Website. 2007-08-28. Retrieved 2007-09-06. [dead link]