Realignment of RFL’s commercial, governance and strategic relationships

The Rugby Football League (RFL) has carried out significant realignment of the sport’s commercial, governance and strategic relationships in 2022 with the objective of maximising commercial returns for the game and delivering a sustainable future. This comes at a seminal time for the sport in the UK as it prepares to host the Rugby League World Cup this autumn.

Northridge advised long-standing client, the RFL, on the two key initiatives behind the realignment.

Firstly, the RFL and the Super League clubs (through Super League Europe) formed a joint venture company, separate from RFL’s governance of the game, to exploit all commercial rights in the sport.

Secondly, the RFL and Super League Europe entered into a 12 year strategic partnership with IMG to reimagine the sport and its competitions in the UK. There will be a key focus on digital transformation, content production and distribution, and data driven product development.

The Northridge team comprised Jon Walters, George Willis and Mike Herbert.

We believe that the initiatives undertaken by the RFL will be transformational for the sport of rugby league and will act as a bellwether for other sports seeking to deliver on commercial objectives and modernise governance frameworks.

This has been a wide-ranging project encompassing advice on the establishment of a corporate joint venture, commercial rights, technology development, and governance structures. It has been a pleasure as always working with Karen Moorhouse and the RFL team and testament to their vision and efforts that the realignment has been delivered with broad approval across the sport.

Jon Walters
Partner, Northridge

With the realignment of the governance of the sport, the entry into a strategic partnership with IMG, and the staging of the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair Rugby League World Cups in England, 2022 will prove to be a watershed year in the history of Rugby League. Northridge’s advice on the governance realignment and strategic partnership was invaluable.

Northridge’s contribution went far beyond pure legal advice and drafting, including the most up to date industry knowledge and best practice and appropriate risk management advice. As ever, Northridge’s service levels were excellent and advice appropriately tailored for the audience and situation.

Karen Moorhouse
Director and Chief Regulatory Officer, RFL