Business leader appointed to head 2021 World Cup board

Chris Brindley, chair of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 board

Business leader Chris Brindley MBE is about to tackle his next big job after being selected as the chair of the Rugby League World Cup 2021.

Brindley has held senior roles at NatWest, British Gas and Metro Bank and a number of non-executive roles in sport, including the Premier League Elite Academy Manager Programme, Manchester Football Association and the Rugby Football League.

He was awarded an MBE for his services to sport in last year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Brindley said: “Already occupying a position on the board, I know that the team has enjoyed a fantastic start on the project and have gained some real momentum.

“It is important to keep this impetus going, and in my new role as chair of the board, we will ensure that we work together to ensure key objectives are met, and the team can deliver the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup ever.”

At a lunch later this month, the Rugby League World Cup chief executive Jon Dutton, Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer and Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison will be setting out how the tournament and the sport’s increasingly-international outlook will help to drive the North’s economy.

England is hosting the rugby tournament for just the second time in 20 years following a successful, but more modest, event in 2013.

The World Cup will actually be three tournaments in one, combining the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions for the first time. Overlapping schedules will see only three days without matches to create a festival of rugby league in the autumn of 2021.

The tournament is being supported by a trade programme, which includes 16 international visits that each ends with an event at the embassy, and is being assisted by the Department for International Trade.

The 2021 tournament is targeting aggregate attendances of 750,000 by using some of the largest stadia in the country. The ambitions have been supported by £25m Government funding through the Northern Powerhouse, where more than 80% of the games will be held.

The men’s opening ceremony will be at St James’ Park, Newcastle and the men’s and women’s final will be held as a double-header at Old Trafford.

England, who were beaten in the 2017 final by hosts Australia, are scheduled to play a quarter-final at Anfield and a semi-final at Arsenal’s home ground, Emirates Stadium, should they progress from their group. Other big games will be hosted at Elland Road, Leeds and Bramall Lane, Sheffield.

Rugby league venues, including St Helens, Warrington, Leigh, and the planned new stadium in Workington will each host three men’s group games, while further afield Middlesbrough and Coventry will host a match each.