DEREK Beaumont believes Leigh can change their spots as the Leopards – they will not look like a ‘snide Versace bag’ for a start.
It all points to the future of rugby league, where locations will not matter.
Leigh will be known as the Leopards after the Centurions name was ditchedLEIGH LEOPARDS
Promotion back to Super League spelled the end of the Centurions and playing in red and white, the same colours as neighbours Wigan.
But the moans from supporters – and jibes from rival fans – have been silenced by off-field deals and the future looks brighter than if they stuck with the same old, same old.
Beaumont said: “The new name distinguishes us a bit. The rebrand also distinguishes us from Wigan.
“People can say, ‘We were first with cherry and white.’ If we were, tough as we’ve been absolutely smashed by Wigan, there’s no denying they’re a much bigger club.
“We almost looked like the snide Versace bag on a market stall. This distinguishes us from that – we’re that, they can be that.
“What the rebrand has done has made us more appealing to a wider audience. Look at the NFL, it’s not the Dallas Cowboys or the San Francisco 49ers anymore, it’s just Cowboys and 49ers.
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“People go on about the geographical spread of our sport – ‘we need to be out of the heartlands, we need to be here, there or wherever.’
“Actually more people, especially younger ones, are just interested in digital and the action part of it. They just want the bits that matter. So looking at the bigger picture, brand is key.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re based in Leigh, London, Wakefield or France.
“If you’re in Norfolk, there’s no team there but you could’ve seen the World Cup, enjoyed it and thought, ‘That’s interesting.’ You want to pin yourself to a club, you’re not going to go, ‘What’s local?’ You look at the brand.
“The facts are in the figures. We’ve got our biggest ever sponsorship deal for the front of the shirt as they absolutely loved it and what it’s about.
Leigh came back up by winning the ChampionshipSWPIX.COM
“Most of the other partners stayed on at increased cost and we’ve attracted new ones. There are also more memberships – we did 2,000 by mid-November, last time in Super League, we did 1,200 season tickets.
“Last year we sold 1,200 shirts. This year, 1,600 memberships are with shirts included – and how many times can you redesign a red and white striped kit?
“In fact, when we brought red and white into the kit, based on feedback, we had 38 who downgraded their membership, only three upgraded – it had a negative impact!”
Leigh are in a much better place to stay up than the last time they were promoted, beyond the last minute after Toronto Wolfpack’s collapse.
They have kept most of their best players from the Championship and added a strong top flight base.
And as he targets a 10,000-plus crowd for their opening match against Salford, Beaumont is looking well beyond finishing 11th next year.
Leigh boss Adrian Lam has a strong squad ahead of their Super League returnSWPIX.COM
He added: “Last time, it was a case of going to a supermarket and everyone else had £2 million to spend on what they want.
“We were held outside and when they’d finished, we had £1 million to buy what was left.
“When clubs were circling our better players, I put my neck on the line to keep them and Super League players were signed as early as May, otherwise we’d have no chance of competing.
“We’re not talking about staying up, we’re talking about play-offs the building from that for years to come.
“For our first game, what we’re doing will fill the stadium, even if a game of rugby didn’t follow it – it’ll be better than anything that’s been done in rugby league.”