Neil Hudgell coy on Toronto talk but hopes new TV deal can attract new owners

Outgoing Hull KR chairman Neil Hudgell hinted at a positive future for rugby league and hopes that the new TV deal will help entice new owners to the sport.

Hudgell announced that he would stand down at the end of the year after a reign that has seen Hull KR rise from the second tier to become an established Super League club, improve considerably their facilities at Craven Park, develop young players and grow crowds, as well as bouncing back from relegation in 2016.

Speaking to Sky Sports after watching the Robins go down to St Helens at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, he wouldn’t be drawn on comments made by coach Tony Smith last week that seemed to hint a reason for his stepping down from chairman was due to the ongoing saga and fall-out surrounding Toronto Wolfpack.

He said: “I didn’t say that directly (about Toronto), I think there’s a lot going on in the game at the moment. A lot of positive stuff, hopefully investment comes in to the game, there’s a new TV deal, so hopefully theres a new landscape that will also entice new potential owners.

“It’s not my decision (whether Toronto remain in Super League), and at end of the day, the game as a whole – the RFL and Super League – need to make the right decision for the competition.

“I’ve been around about 15 years longer than expected when I took the chair. I’m just tired. Came back after lockdown, not massively missed what was going on in and around the game, I just thought it needed someone with some energy to give it another go, and see if we can actually get back to the sport where we were when I first started supporting the club.

“I’m open minded, someone that comes in for the right reasons that loves the sport and wants to grow the club and sees the enormous ambition and potential that there is in Hull Kingston Rovers.”

Toronto’s proposed new ownership group is due to meet with Super League chief Robert Elstone on Tuesday to present itself for consideration to be included for the 2021 season.

A key discussion point of their proposal surrounds the receipt of central funding and what sanctions they are to face for their withdrawal from the current campaign – while it is believed that players and staff still haven’t been paid since May.


  1. If it was ANY other club in the Rugby League, they would probably be facing demotion. Because it’s Toronto, I can’t even see them starting 2021 with a points deduction. “Grow the game at any cost” sems to be the way of thinking.
    Personally, I think having one (or more) teams in Noorth America competing in a League consisting of teams from England – plus Catalan Dragons – is absolutely barmy.
    Better to try and grow the game in new areas of England and France – such as the great work at Newcastle, who will surely be knocking on the door soon, providing they have survived the financial burdens of the virus.

    • We would love that one unfortunately it just do-sent work as we have been trying to expand in the UK all my life which is 61 years London are an example no crowds and no hope of them. Expansion into Canada with more global exposure means more money into the sport with a secure future Go Toronto

  2. Players & staff need to be paid up to date. Contracts should be hounered,compensation should also be a consideration to players who have had out of pocket expenses. Before any discussion takes place.

  3. The game needs growing at grassroots level first. Don’t see half as many amateur teams playing on local parks so were are the future stars coming from

  4. Just makes me laugh with the preferential treatment being given out to Toronto. Yet the game was quite willing to watch the likes of Widnes Bradford die . Toronto should never be allowed back into super league , without some form of punishment, either relegation or points deduction . Makes me want to spew

  5. Don’t agree with your comment Alex. We’ve tried to expand in UK with very mixed results. In london even with Branson’s millions gates were poor. In contrast Toronto has been getting great attendances. We have a superb game and desperately need new continents and new owners. No one could have kept Toronto alive without a penny coming into their pockets . Tragic what happened but totally understandable .

    • Agree
      People seem to forget (conveniently or not) that TORONTO haven’t take a penny out the game. In fact pleas for assistance from SL clubS were met with a go forth and multiply response after they took , In theory, Toronto’s share and spread it out amongst themselves.
      Toronto have done more for the game in their short existence than many clubs have done in over 100 years of existence yet people believe these clubs are the future.
      They are not they are what hold the game back. Sorry if that hurts but it’s a truth. Keighley, for example, biggest crowd was back in the 1950’s of just over 14,000 and there is no way will they get anywhere near that in the foreseeable future. The ground won’t hold that many and people are happy with clubs with 8,000 capacity.
      The current model of the game is outdated and needs revamping from top to bottom.
      The bigger picture needs to be seen, but as said previously, insular, parochial attitudes will prevent the game progressing, always has done and is unlikely to change anytime soo.
      Don’t blame Toronto for the games problems in this country, especially financial.

  6. Toronto don’t deserve a second chance, they lied to rfl & super league stating they could survive…..They bring nothing at all to our game , let a grass roots team have a chance , leigh , Featherstone, or get behind a cumbrian side 🤔

  7. Totally agree with Neil can it be good for the game when Torronto and catalan dragons only bring enough supporters that fit onto two skateboards when playing away.its funny how the RFL always have different rules for HKR & HFC and yet their wonderful Wigan & Saints they fall over backwards to luvvie them.This is why the game is becoming stagnant ,to many buffoons at top level.

  8. I have some sympathy with some of the above views but seeing the match experience in Toronto and the size of the attendance has to be worth something. The supporters have a great afternoon out and seem to enjoy our great sport .They don’t have to compete with soccer or yawnion as national sports and bring a much- needed international dimension. I would love to see Cumbria, Northumberland , London, and the Midlands have Superleague teams , and a strong French league……but is this just a dream. We don’t have Australian millionaires in these places to fund them.

  9. Has to be Toronto. The game needs to break out of its traditional areas if it is to grow. Nothing against Featherstone but if they are the answer we are doomed.

  10. Dear Chris , sorry I don’t agree with your statements either . But I’ll back this up with facts . Fact (1) the game needs to grow from the grass roots upwards , Fact (2) I played in the Southern Conference tough league full of Aussies and Kiwis that’s past Watford cap for you . Not the M62 corridor I hear about . Fact (3) the game is now being played in the Armed Forces from as far north as Lossiemouth ( Scotland ) to far south in Plymouth that’s the Army , navy, Air Force , marines and a good combined services side . The game has also expanded in Scotland might be amateur league , but one day it could lead to a professional side . After all Scotland have had some good results namely the draw against the kiwis. I know this because I’m one of a number of the originals who played for Scotland , Raf , joint services and combined service . So in our part of world from little acorns do mighty oak trees grow . So we don’t need people’s hard work being undone by a team like Toronto Wolfpack , who walked out when going got to tough, showed no respect to the sport as a whole . It’s a failed experiment as for the for the facts I’ve given check them out . Not one team I’ve ever played for in a league or international level have ever been run in away in which Toronto are getting away with . As I’ve said before the RFL tried to kill off Widnes Bradford Leigh London featherstone teams with 100 of years worth of history and not just 5 mins like Toronto.

  11. 12 point deduction, down to the championship, rfl let widnes, Bradford, Leigh be relegated joke rfl at least they have pizza to eat, another rfl masterstroke.

  12. I left school with no educational certificates, joined the Armed Forces . Played Rugby ,represented Scotland RAF , joint Services , combined Services at rugby league and played in the southern conference. Got level one and two coaching qualifications , so I’ve tried to spread the game . But by the hell not one side have been run as badly Toronto. I now have a education and run my own business, if it was run like Toronto I’d have gone BUST in my first year , I’m now into year eight . Willing to give Toronto some business tips for free WTID

  13. Sadly so many of the posts on this show why interest in the game is declining.
    Sorry but no way does Huddersfield v Featherstone, as an example(should Fev ever get into SL), set the whole medi global sporting world alight or even get a flicker of interest. I really wish it would but the game in this country just doesn’t help itself. It’s insular, negative, parochical and doesn;t help itself with strong player development, but rather invest in crocked, past it, never were, never will be NRL standard players. This has been the scenario since 1982 when the Australians handed GB’s backside back to itself.
    The challange is to sell the WHOLE game and currently it doesn’t. The product is excellent, the selling appalling.

  14. Oh I’m interested in the game alright and I’d like to see the game expand. But on a level playing field for every team getting the same treatment. Unlike Toronto. Mind you it will be hard for batley and featherstone to play on a level playing field because having played on batley and featherstone pitch their pretty steep hills

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