Brian Barwick explains the reasoning behind becoming the RFL's new non-executive chairman

Last Updated: 28/02/13 9:13am

New Rugby Football League non-executive chairman Brian Barwick told Boots 'n' All he's a long-time rugby league fan.

The former Football Association chief executive has a long history in sports and broadcasting having previously worked for the BBC and ITV, and eyebrows were raised when he opted for a role in rugby league.

But Barwick told Boots: "I suppose I saw my first rugby league game about 47 or 48 years ago. I was living in Liverpool and Liverpool City were the team I followed. They played at Knotty Ash Stadium, just down the road from Ken Dodd and it was a photo finish as to which was the funnier.

"Liverpool FC would play on one Saturday and Liverpool City on the other, so over a period of four or five years I would see them quite a lot. That was the era when all the teams were in the same division and sadly Liverpool City propped the rest up.

"I love the sport. I think it's a fantastic sport. I'm known for football and very proud of that but I've always have a great affection for rugby league. As a matter of fact, I took my lad out for a bite to eat in Leeds and he brought his mate and I asked him if he was surprised and he said he wasn't because every time he comes round, I'm watching rugby league.

"I'm always watching it, and I think I can do things for it. It's a really positive move for me and I've been humbled by the messages I've received from within this game and sport in general. I intend to do this for a long time and really well."

Goals

With such an impressive CV under his belt, Barwick is confident that his extensive list of contacts in the sporting industry can help elevate rugby league to the recognition he feel it deserves.

He added: "It's fierce on the pitch and fan-friendly off it. Rugby league is brilliant at talking to itself and puffing its chest out. It needs to puff its chest out to the rest of the world and I think I can help with that.

"Over 35 years of being at the top of the broadcasting and sport industries, I've developed a network of contacts and I'm going to use that to send out the message of rugby league to the people.

"I'm going to let the executive get on with the executive role - non-executive means exactly that. I can be very influential in getting people to take rugby league seriously. Sometimes it's its own worst enemy because it's almost shy.

"My contacts book is an old-fashioned black book with two elastic bands around it and those bands are coming off on a regular basis already in the name of rugby league.

"Twickenham is where I live and it works very well for rugby league because it's 200 miles away. That gives me objectivity, although I can still use subjectivity when I need to. Also, I'm near some of the powerbrokers - the newspapers and the officials of government."