Exclusive: Adam Pearson on silverware, return of fans and why Hull FC could leave KCOM Stadium home
There have been times during his decade in charge at the KCOM Stadium that – frustrated and tired by some of the sport’s machinations – the former Leeds United commercial director had questioned why he entered the world of rugby league.
However, ahead of Monday’s Betfred Super League home game with Catalans Dragons – when supporters can attend games for the first time in 14 months – Pearson admits he has been almost overwhelmed by the response of fans as coronavirus threatened to bring the sport to its knees.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, he said: “People give you soundbites about supporters and people in England.
“But it is just incredible. They have not complained about anything.
“They have kept buying their season tickets, they have kept buying their (hospitality) boxes.
“We haven’t lost one advertiser or sponsor. Not one. It is just fantastic.”
Hull have won the Challenge Cup twice in Pearson’s reign and will aim for a third having beaten Wigan Warriors in last weekend’s epic quarter-final.
Super League still eludes them but, under new head coach Brett Hodgson, they have lost only one of their opening five games.
Asked if the fans’ response had reignited his belief in investing in rugby league, Pearson replied: “It has left me highly-motivated.
“And if I see the players playing with that desire and intensity that they showed against Wigan, then yes, they are going to get all the backing they need whether it’s a new training ground or whatever.
“We’re working on all sorts at the moment.
“(England rugby union head coach) Eddie Jones has been in for the last two days to swap ideas with Brett (Hodgson) and to see if they can learn anything from each other.
“We’re trying everything to put an edge back into our club.”
With government restrictions eased to allow a limited number of fans back into grounds from Monday, Pearson said it would be “fantastic” to see fans back supporting their club.
That said, the Yorkshireman conceded it has not been an easy process to organise given ongoing issues with the Allam-controlled Superstadium Management Company.
“Logistically and operationally it’s been an absolute nightmare,” said Pearson.
“We’ve had to pay a lot of money to get our landlords to even switch the game to a Monday which is an ongoing debate.
“We need to find a more harmonious relationship with our landlords – or we need to find ourselves a new ground.
“It’s unhealthy at the moment and it’s exacerbated the issues organising this game.
“However, come hell or high water, we will get this game on.
“It will be fantastic to see the crowds back. The Aussie boys in particular – especially our new one Josh Reynolds – just can’t wait.
“It’s almost like their life in England is about to start because they’ve been cooped up for six months and it’s like they’re going to be unleashed. They can’t wait.
“We’ll have about 6,000 (of a 25,000 capacity) in on Monday.”
Meanwhile, Hodgson says his players will benefit from the two days Jones spent with the club.
Jones, 61, who spent some time with Warrington Wolves in 2019, took up an invitation from fellow Australian Hodgson to take an active role in training ahead of the clash with Catalans and held meetings with the players.
Former Great Britain hooker Jon Clarke was a team-mate of Hodgson’s at Warrington and he is now England rugby union’s head of strength and conditioning.
Hodgson said: “I spent some time with England rugby union just to go and do some personal development.
“I had a relationship with Eddie ongoing from that and I asked if he’d like to come up and just offer some advice to us.
“It was good having him here. When he speaks, everyone listens. He commands a room really well and we learnt a lot, which we’d like to keep in-house.”
Props Masi Matongo, Scott Taylor and Josh Bowden are all still injured for Monday’s game.
However, England centre Jake Connor, prop Brad Fash and winger Bureta Faraimo are set to return following suspension.
Furthermore, centre Josh Griffin and co-captain Danny Houghton will be available.
They were forced off in the win against Wigan with head knocks but have passed their subsequent tests to take their place against Catalans at the KCOM Stadium.
The other Super League game in the region on Monday sees Castleford Tigers host Hull KR.
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