By STEVE MASCORD
CREDIT where it’s due.
The weekend’s story about boxing promoter Eddie Hearn showing an interest in rugby league came from a Twitter tip-off by one Nick Draper.
Draper even gave me the time code to start watching when Hearn, son of Barry, was asked about rumours linking him with the sport.
The YouTube interview in question is posted by iFL TV, who seem to specialise in boxing. Eddie screws up his face, as if it’s the most obscure thing he’s ever heard, and then goes on to give rugby league a big wrap but lament it’s “in the wrong hands”.
The story is the most read we’ve every carried on rugbyleaguehub.com.
I don’t for a minute think Eddie or Barry Hearn want to don a blazer and sit at Red Hall or Salford Quays on a rugby league salary. They want to stay in their current seats – on a first class train, 1A on an international flight or perhaps in the back of a chauffeur-driven car.
So while rank and file league fans – plus plenty of players, officials and media people – want the game to welcome them with open arms, the game is going to have to come up with more than money.
It’s going to have to swallow its pride.
Rugby league is not averse to calling in consultants but how many of them are so up-front they get 100 per cent of the credit for anything that goes right and 100 per cent of the blame if it doesn’t?
That is what’s going to be required here – to hand over the reins completely to the Hearns and to give them a truckload of cash as well.
Then again, it shouldn’t be too hard for an organisation that gave away its naming rights to Stobart for nothing.
Personally, I’d give them whatever they want. The big issue is who touches their toes first – the RFL or Super League? If the Hearns get involved in Super League, you can take it as read the lower divisions will be left in their wake.
If Super League becomes darts, the Championship and League One will become egg-and-spoon racing.
On the other hand, if Ralph Rimmer jumps first then the out-and-out rebellion people have been foreshadowing could well be averted.
You’d imagine the Hearns would take Super League without the RFL – but no way would the opposite be of interest to them.
Look, this may just be a sales pitch, like me sending an email to an editor pitching a story idea without actually thinking he or she will get back to me. Putting out feelers is good for business, after all.
But as a sport, we should be biting Eddie Hearn’s hand off. If things don’t work out, he can always have it back.