Rugby League and the Impact of Introducing a Licensing System to the Sport:

Rugby League and the Impact of Introducing a Licensing System to the Sport: What can English Football Learn?

Lankaster Lecture Theatre (University College London)
Medawar Building,
Malet Place (off Torrington Place),
London WC1

(For directions click here)

Thursday 24th November  2011 at 6pm

Given by: Blake Solly (RFL) and Matthew Segal (RFL and LMU)


Since its breakaway from the Rugby Football Union in 1895 to form the Northern Rugby Football Union, the sport of Rugby League has been famous for its innovative approach to sport. It was the first football code to allow the use of substitutes in 1964, the first major British sport to allow shirt sponsorship in 1974, and also the first major British sport to introduce video referees and technology in 1996. Over the years innovation has been synonymous with Rugby League. However, following the creation of The Super League in 1996, the face of the sport has dramatically changed, moving from the winter to the summer season, the introduction of a salary cap, and most recently adopting a licensing system in 2009, removing both traditional promotion and relegation to the competition. The licensing system is now entering into its second period, and while it has been viewed as a success by many of the game’s stakeholders, it remains a hotly debated and much discussed topic both within Rugby League and the wider sporting world.

In light of the recent recommendation from the Select Committee inquiry into the governance of English football, which recommended that English football should too adopt a licensing system, this presentation will look to evaluate the reasoning behind the introduction of licensing in Rugby League and the impact it has had on the sport thus far. The presenters will conclude by making some observations as to how a licensing system might be successfully applied in English football.


  • You can watch Blake Solly and Matthew Segal giving an overview of the licensing system in the Super League in November 2011 to Birkbeck’s Sport Busines Centre:



Blake Solly
Blake is a qualified solicitor, having been admitted to practice in Australia in 2000 and England Wales in 2005. After working in the Sport and Regulatory team with Berrymans Lace Mawer in Leeds, Blake joined the RFL in February 2009 as Compliance Manager. Since January 2010 he has also been the RFL’s Head of Licensing, with responsibility for all aspects of the Super League licensing strategy and process.

Matthew Segal
Matthew is currently undertaking a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University and the Rugby Football League. This partnership is aiming to improve the governance of Rugby League’s member clubs. Matthew holds a Political Science degree from Birmingham University and is also a former student of Birkbeck College, where he gained a Masters in Sports Management and the Business of Football. Prior to working for the RFL, Matthew worked within the Financial Regulation team at the Football Association

Contact Details

For further details on this seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Tel: 020-7631 6763

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