Neil Hudgell: League revamp should aim to make Super League clubs self-sufficient

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THERE’S obviously a lot to talk about in the game at the moment.

I won’t mention referees again. I think that’s been done to death.

I haven’t even bothered to ask Jon Sharp in the RFL refs’ department for an explanation of the Josh Charnley try Wigan scored against us last week.

That’s a worrying sign that a club owner can become so disillusioned.

On another matter, I do feel strongly about the review of the sport and subsequent plans for league restructuring; I believe Super League is really missing a chance to take a big step forward in the right direction.

My own opinion is that the review of the game should have been used to help make Super League clubs self-sufficient. I’ll get criticised for saying that and being self-interested but everybody has got self-interest when it comes down to it.

The opportunity was there to restructure and bring more money into the Super League clubs and bring them all nearer to being self-sufficient.

As it stands there are average losses of £500,000 per club each year so it’s something that is certainly needed.

I might be in a minority but I do feel two leagues of 10 would have been the way forward. Four clubs would have dropped out so it’d be like turkeys voting for Christmas but I believe it was the best option for making Super League stronger. With one up, one down, the Championship team with potential for Super League – and I think there are only two or three that have that opportunity – can still achieve it.

Straight promotion and relegation has to be the key as it removes any scope for administrative assertions; when someone makes a decision across a desk, people can question peoples’ agendas.

The elite part of the game is Super League, what people want to watch is Super League, and what people want to see on TV is Super League so that should have been the main aim of the review.

But from a Super League perspective, the objectives of the proposal that looks like going ahead – a 12-team league splitting after 23 rounds into three leagues of eight – just aren’t going to suit what we actually need to happen.

I can see why the RFL are doing it – they have to serve all aspects of the game, through community level, Championship and everything else.

But the only part of the game that has commercial value is Super League and many clubs, us included at Hull KR, need extra finance to help us become self-sustaining or otherwise we’ll all just be finishing after the usual three or four clubs.

I’m not a fan of what is very much an RFL championed proposal.

I just think it’s got a level of complexity that people won’t necessarily understand.

We’re all anoraks on the game but there’s a risk of us alienating new people to the sport.

Meanwhile, it’s the derby tomorrow as we take on Hull FC at MS3 Craven Park but for once I’m not even considering it as a derby. All I’m seeing tomorrow is two points. That’s all it’s about for us. If we get those two points it will give us a real leg up towards finishing either sixth or maybe even fifth.

On the back of some early season adversity, missing key players and games in which we just didn’t get anything from the officials, getting a home tie in the play-offs would be a good return.

In Ben Thaler we’ve got the same ref tomorrow as at Magic Weekend although he obviously wasn’t the reason for Steve Ganson’s gaffe then.

Interview by Dave Craven