Derek Beaumont shocked everyone when he rebranded the Leigh Centurions into the Leigh Leopards prior to the season.
But the controversial Leigh owner, who has turned them into a very dangerous side in 2023, has now explained his decision revealing that IMG were a key driving force behind it.
The rebrand brought about much criticism online from fans of other teams, but also fans of his own club who felt the decision was made on a whim with certain aread of it, including the home shirt, receiving plenty of backlash.
Speaking ahead of Magic Weekend, Beumont has now revealed more details about how he and the club came to the decision to rebrand following promotion to Super League.
“Well, I just think we needed to change,” he said. “We needed to look different than what we’d always been and which ultimately, you know, we’ve been in Super League three times and never managed to stick it out.
“We had an image that was very similar to Wigan in the striped shirt, a Warrior against a Centurion. I just felt that if you were IMG or an investor looking from the outside in, you have to accept that that looks like a bigger club than ours in its history and so on and so forth.
“So we needed to break away and find a way of maximizing what we could do. I think facility wise, I mean the size of facility we’ve got is perfect. It’s something that we can fill and create a great atmosphere in rather than something that’s too big.
“Then it was a case of we didn’t know how great it was going to go with the rugby so you’ve got to create an event, if you can come out and you’re in there early, you’re listening to good quality music on a PA, it doesn’t always have to be a Scouting For Girls or a T’Pau.
“We’ve had a tribute band on, we’ve had a wedding band on, we’ve got bigger acts than we’ve had on coming on without giving too much away. So you create an event that you come, you have a good night, you ultimately get good service and well after you see some fireworks, the flags waving and it just generates the mood amongst the people and then of course the products on the field will always be the bit that really raises the atmosphere.”
On the pitch, Leigh have been excellent so far this season and find themselves inside the Super League playoff places ahead of their clash against winless Wakefield at Magic Weekend – a game they are expected to win that could put them in the top four.
Speaking on their achievements on the pitch, Beaumont believes many people had the Leopards in a relegation scrap prior to the season starting and believes they have proved everyone wrong.
He added: “I’m not so sure anybody in the game would have underestimated us per se, but I think quite a lot of fans and supporters might have done that before the season.
“But we’re spending the cap and you look across the quality of players that are in there and what they’ve done in and around the game.
“You’ve got Ipape, Asiata who has won a grand final in the NRL, Tom Amone then reigniting people like Josh Charnley, the competitiveness of Zak Hardaker, and Lachlan Lam is on fire.
“So, the qualities in there, it was just a case of Adrian getting them all working together, and he reckons he’s still got years to go. So, we’ll see about that.
“Lammy seems to have got them playing well together early and they’ve grown week on week on week. I think they sit rightfully where they do.”