Saints in transition …

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Sean McGuire’s four year tenure as Chief Executive of St Helens rugby football club was nothing if not eventful.

On the field the Saints have accumulated a steady stream of silverware, including a Grand Slam in 2006. Off the field the club has ridden salary cap, drugs, gambling and weakened-team storms in addition to the acrimonious and high profile parting of the ways with Aussie coach, Ian Millward.

Through it all the charismatic McGuire maintained a straight bat, compiling a healthy media profile as he transformed the cash-leaking club into a more professional, hard-nosed, business operation.

Did he make waves along the way? Inevitably he did and the disgruntled were left in his wake. Yet, whilst his tactics may have rankled with some, the club is undeniably better organised and structured as a result of his strategic vision.

The massive inherited debt that was strangling the loss-making behemoth has been addressed, thanks in large part to the financial support of chairman Eamonn McManus; whilst the commercial initiatives instigated by McGuire have assured a steady external income.

Most intriguing of those commercial initiatives is the ‘Saints and the City‘ campaign that has insinuated the RL club deeper into the sporting psyche of Liverpool and – as importantly – opened further revenue streams.

Ironically, Tony Colquitt, the CEO designate, was involved in the first Saints and the City event at Radio City in Liverpool’s St George’s tower. To him now falls the role of building upon the successful foundations built by McGuire and McManus.

A former marketing director for Gillette, Colquitt brings undoubted commercial acumen and he will need that and energy in abundance if he is to steer Saints in the next phase of their journey. That journey must surely include a move to a new stadium facility, whether on the current Knowsley Road site or elsewhere in the Borough.

Without that move the good work done is in danger of unravelling, with it the McManus era will leave a lasting legacy; although as Warrington have found out, it’s no substitute for class on-field talent.

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