Updated: Monday, 18th November 2019 @ 12:02pm

Leigh Centurions '100% behind RFL campaign' against BBC cuts to radio programming

Leigh Centurions '100% behind RFL campaign' against BBC cuts to radio programming

By Karl Dyer

Leigh Centurions are rallying behind rugby league officials in a bid to stop cuts to local radio programming.

The RFL, governing body for rugby league in the UK, issued a statement urging fans of the sport from across the country to campaign against BBC proposals to reduce local radio provisions.

Greater Manchester club Leigh Centurions are offering their full backing in order to ensure vital BBC Radio Manchester programming continues to be enjoyed by avid rugby league fans.

“The club’s 100% behind the RFL and the least we can do is thank them for taking the lead on the matter,” said Trevor Barton, Centurions’ Chief Executive Officer.

“The cuts will reduce the club and sport’s exposure to a free to air audience and a group of people who genuinely do listen and participate.

Threats to local radio came to light when RFL chairman Richard Lewis attended the All Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group last month.

“The proposals for BBC local radio will have, potentially, a very negative impact upon all sport and on Rugby League in particular,” said Mr Lewis.

“The consultation closes on Wednesday 21 December and I cannot stress enough the importance that every individual who cares about the sport to take part in the consultation and share your concerns with the BBC Trust.”

The consequences of the cuts range from the likely disappearance of midweek rugby league magazine programmes to fewer commentators meaning a reduction in live commentary across the leagues.

Furthermore, the removal of Medium Wave will mean only one sporting slot will exist at a time and with the dominance of football it’s likely rugby league will miss out.

Mr Barton believes that the loss of the opportunity to have an opinion heard on local radio along with in-depth discussion is the biggest factor.

In October, the RFL praised BBC Radio Manchester’s Thursday evening Rugby League Extra programme after it won a prestigious gold award at the Gillard BBC Local Radio awards.

At the time, RFL Communications Manager John Ledger said: “The importance of local radio is reflected in the high quality of BBC Radio Manchester’s Rugby League.”

Now Mr Barton believes the threat of losing this aspect of local radio is where the majority of the concern lies.

“To lose Thursday’s nights programming would be a real body blow,” he explained. “I feel very strongly about it, everyone at BBC Radio Manchester have become personal friends.”

“There’s a real togetherness, a fellowship of rugby league fans and there are some really good debates from a constructive view. It would be a great shame for that to be lost.”

Responses to the proposals should be made by Wednesday 21 December while more information can be found at http://consultations.external.bbc.co.uk/bbc/dqf/