Sir Ian McGeechan fires shot at Leeds Rhinos as one of reasons Yorkshire Carnegie failed on his watch

SIR IAN McGeechan has offered a withering assessment of how he feels Yorkshire Carnegie has been “destroyed and cast aside.”

By Dave Craven
Monday, 9th December 2019, 3:07 pm
Sir Ian McGeechan
Sir Ian McGeechan

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The day British Lions legend Sir Ian McGeechan walked out on crisis-hit Yorkshir...

He first arrived back at Headingley in 2012 as Leeds Carnegie’s executive chairman tasked with, among other things, building relationships with businesses, sponsors and clubs across the county to create a sustainable base to build professional rugby.

However, having been the driving force behind the controversial name change to Yorkshire Carnegie, McGeechan quit his latest role as executive president in May with the club in a financial mess.

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They are now operating as a part-time side in the Championship still without a win this term, their long-held dreams of a return to the Premiership ruined and, instead, left fighting simply for basic survival.

In his Daily Telegraph column, McGeechan wrote about a “flawed business model” which saw the union side “effectively pay a management fee to Leeds Rhinos in return for 20 per cent of the league staff’s time.”

But he added: “The problem was that there was no incentive for the league staff to go out and look for union sponsors.

“Key appointments were needed in commercial and marketing who had a passion for, and understanding of, rugby union.

“While the shareholders themselves were an excellent group, everything relied on shareholder contributions as other income streams diminished.

“Premiership P shares were sold to Exeter; Leeds Beckett University’s £1  million sponsorship arrangement finished in 2017; and the club’s shareholding in Premiership Rugby and associated dividends diminished on an annual basis.

“It got to the stage where the plan was very much based on one major shareholder who made significant contributions.”

When the major shareholder hit financial problems late last year, that is when Carnegie started to derail.

McGeechan, who was also in control of Carnegie's entire football budget until director of rugby Chris Stirling arrived in March 2018, added: “There was never even an assessment of what a Plan B might look like.

“It was obvious restructuring was needed. But not by going part-time; by getting rid of every person who was part of the rugby department – people who I had worked with for six years were just gone.

“It was this approach to players and staff I found so unacceptable. A name is nothing without people. A club’s reputation is based on its people.

“It was a decision taken on a conference call that I was unable to be on. The next board meeting was fiery and my resignation followed.”