HULL KR owner Neil Hudgell revealed he “copped personal abuse” for the first time in his 15 years at the helm this season - and the club has missed out on several signings due to their long battle to avoid relegation.
READ MORE: How it all unfolded for Hull KR on tense night at Salford
The Robins only made sure of their Super League safety in the final round last night but even then they had to rely on others.
Rovers let another winning position slip to lose 17-16 in Golden Point extra-time at Salford Red Devils, just a week after falling at the death against bottom-placed London Broncos.
They were eternally grateful that Wakefield Trinity - one of their rivals in four-way shoot-out at the foot of the table - beat London 19-10 last night, meaning the capital club were demoted instead.
However, the East Yorkshire club - who were relegated in 2016 - only survived due to a superior points difference to London showing how close they came to an unthinkable exit.
Obviously, the relief among Rovers fans, players and staff was palpable but Hudgell issued a statement this morning to outline his frustrations at the whole situation.
“My heartfelt thanks goes to our core support,” he said.
“You’ve stuck with us throughout the year despite the set-backs.
“It has been a hugely difficult year, typified by last night at Salford Red Devils. We did enough to win, but found a way not to.
“It does not rest easy for me that we ended up relying on others to maintain our place at the top table.
“But we have done, and that’s all that is important for now.”
But Rovers - who sacked Tim Sheens in June and brought Tony Smith in to aid their battle against the drop - need to make changes to ensure they do not get dragged into such problematic scenarios again.
“Personally, this has been the most frustrating of my 15 years in charge,” said Hudgell.
“We should have put the job to bed six weeks ago.
“The delay in securing our position in Super League 2020 has hampered our planning already for next year.
“We have missed out on several very good appointments, on and off the field.
“Sport is often about small margins, and maybe we can point to the six games that we have lost by two points or less.
“In the eight games, though, against the bottom three teams around us we have won only two. That’s ultimately what has made life so difficult for ourselves.”
Hudgell, who has pumped vast amounts of his own money into his hometown club for so long, also revealed he has come under fire from some sections of the support.
“It has been a bit of an eye-opener for me in one respect,” he said.
“It is the first year I’ve copped any sort of personal abuse. I have been lucky compared to others in other clubs.
“Our core support knows where we have come from and how difficult it is.
“I have no problem at all with people expressing their anger and disappointment, but there is a line that should not be crossed.
“I do not listen to it, those people are not needed in this club, and we do not need that negativity.
“It is a new beginning for the club under head coach Tony Smith, with a major focus on young and ambitious players.
“We have a fair bit of recruitment to do, some tough calls to make, and a lot of hard work to get stuck into.
“We have to break this cycle and start to fulfil the enormous potential here. I’m not celebrating averageness, just a sense of relief that we can crack on with that journey.”