ANDY Burnham will be the new president of the Rugby Football League.

The former Leigh MP, and honorary vice president at Leigh Centurions, is to take over from Air Commodore Dean Andrew OBE RAF in July 2018.

Burnham, who is an avid rugby league fan, was elected as Mayor of Greater Manchester in May 2017.

Prior to this he was MP for Leigh from 2001.

In government, Andy held ministerial positions at the Home Office, Department of Health and the Treasury and in 2008 he became Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, before returning to the Department for Health as Secretary of State in 2009.

“Being asked to represent the proud sport of rugby league is one of the greatest honours I’ve ever been given," he said.

“Over the years, my love of the game has grown and grown – as a sometime player, a touchline dad and an avid supporter of Leigh Centurions.

"At a time when other sports have become more detached from their communities, rugby league remains rooted in theirs and that community spirit is its great strength.

“Greater Manchester is one of the sport’s greatest heartlands.

"We have six famous clubs and a grassroots and club structure that is strong. I see it as an important part of my role as Mayor of Greater Manchester to develop the game here and further afield.

“I believe rugby league has huge untapped potential.

"It is a fantastic sport that builds teamwork, promotes strength of character and brings communities together.

"This passion needs to be nurtured if we are to develop this great game from grassroots upwards and encourage more people, particularly our younger generation, to get involved.

“I will seek to use my time in the privileged position of president to raise the profile of the sport in any way I can.”