Swinton Lions without a chairman after board quits following furious backlash from fans over name change
- Proposed name change Swinton Lions to Manchester Lions caused uproar among fans
- Board members resigned following backlash from supporters
Rugby league club Swinton Lions are without a chairman after the board resigned following a vicious backlash from fans.
The backlash came after the board proposed the club change its name from Swinton Lions Rugby Club to Manchester Lions, a change directors said would boost the club's appeal to a wider market and secure their financial position.
But many fans were unhappy with the proposal, with many arguing that Swinton fans do not regard themselves as a Manchester club.
“Why shame on those who could not accept name change? No place for abuse but I say credit to the loyal fans who are Swinton through and through! No matter what is said Swinton is NOT Manchester!” said one twitter user called SalfordRedArmy.
Why shame on those who could not accept name change? No place for abuse agree but I say credit to the loyal fans who are Swinton through and through! No matter what is said Swinton is NOT Manchester!— SalfordRedArmy (@SalfordArmy) October 2, 2019
Other fans blamed the board's approach to the proposal for the backlash.
“Believe me nobody was oblivious to the work of the chairman and board. It’s been fantastic. Unfortunately, their handling of the name change was poor. Almost all fans wanted a small compromise. But that didn’t happen.” said another user called 'Bonb Hope''.
Gary. Believe me nobody was oblivious to the work of the chairman and board. It’s been fantastic. Unfortunately their handling of the name change was poor. Almost all fans wanted a small compromise. But that didn’t happen. You’re correct about the club being in ruins though.— BOB HOPE (@bobhope7) September 16, 2019
In a letter to the Lions board, the mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett, said: "I have noted widespread dissatisfaction amongst fans regarding this proposal, particularly given the lack of fan consultation.
"Swinton Lions are a historic club with long-standing connections to the people of Swinton. I firmly believe that a name change will do serious damage to that heritage."
Not all of the debate was civil, however, with previous chairman Andy Mazey citing online abuse as a factor in his resignation.
He said: “I had my car stolen and I had people sending me messages saying 'you’ve got your comeuppance now, you’ve tried to nick Swinton so now someone’s nicked your car'.
“What has gone on isn’t right. It got to a point where some social media pages were getting abusive and threatening.
“I’ve been called a fat b****** online and at the match last week, when people spent the whole game shouting abuse at us and gesturing, while we had guests and sponsors there.
“I don’t want that. I’ve got an 18-year-old daughter and she’s reading all the online stuff and she just said ‘Dad, get yourself out of that’.
“This is a warning for the sport as a whole. There have been good people, respected individuals get involved in rugby league at Swinton, but they’ve been frightened away through some people’s actions.”
Following Andy Mazey’s resignation on 13 September, the club appointed Stephen Wild as interim chairman until they find a replacement.