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Wigan Warriors chairman asks why £200m Sky Sports TV rights deal didn’t go out to tender

Wigan Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan has said that he was ‘coerced’ into signing a £200m television rights deal with Sky Sports and now regrets having done so.

The deal saw the Super League sign over their TV rights from 2017-21 in a contract valued 30 per cent higher than Sky’s existing deal.

Remarking on the agreement Lehagan said: “We are now shut out from any increase in the value of broadcasting rights over an eight-year period. BT Sport are very serious competitors and they are in it for the long term. Yet Super League did not even go out to tender to give them the opportunity to bid for the rights.

“To go with another five-year contract, three years from now, without giving anyone else a chance to bid for the rights is surely crazy commercially.

“I’m not suggesting it be reversed or challenged since the clubs [including Wigan] voted democratically for it. However, I hope that clubs, fans and players will recognise that the process followed by the governing body throughout this, whilst resulting in welcome and much-needed money for Super League and the Championship - has been seriously flawed and should result in a major review of the management of Super League and the dual involvement of the RFL in that management.”

Defending the deal Nigel Wood, chief executive of the Rugby Football League, said: “RFL chief executive, said: “There is democracy at work at all levels in rugby league. Everyone in the sport wants it to succeed and I don’t think anyone would not salute that flag. Whatever measures are taken to improve the sport should be welcomed.”

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