Robert Elstone is set to leave Everton and return to rugby league after being approached to take up a role as the head of Super League.
The Everton chief executive is seen by the 12 clubs as the standout candidate after they were impressed by his experience in rugby league and other sports.
No deal has yet been signed but it is thought the clubs are confident of tempting Elstone away from Goodison Park and back to a sport in which he has significant experience.
Elstone has been involved in Everton’s plans to relocate to a new stadium at Bramley Moore dock and his departure would come at a delicate time with financing and planning for the stadium yet to be secured. The club declined to comment on his possible move.
The 54-year-old has been at Everton since 2005, having held a position on the board of the Super League side Castleford. He was also employed by the Rugby Football League and is regarded as one of the key figures in the creation of Super League in the mid-1990s.
Elstone would rejoin rugby league at an interesting time. The 12 clubs were successful in a quest for more power over the winter, having formed their own board which left them in sole control of their destiny – effectively breaking away from the RFL.
With the sport’s lucrative broadcast deal with Sky expiring at the end of 2021, Elstone would play a key role in talks for a new deal, which are likely to begin as early as this year.
His experience in the sport resulted in him being almost immediately linked to the chief executive’s role at the RFL, which is still vacant following the departure of Nigel Wood at the beginning of the year. Elstone could still potentially do both roles. Wood was also on the Super League board before he stepped down.