Search is on to replace the ‘greatest chairman’ in Hull KR history

HULL KINGSTON ROVERS chief executive Mike Smith says Neil Hudgell has been “the greatest chairman the club has ever had” and it would be unrecognisable if not for his service over the last 16 years.

Hull KR's Mike Smith: Leading search.

Hudgell made the surprise announcement on Monday that he will stand down on December 1 and relinquish control following an “all-consuming journey” with his beloved Robins.

Having invested great sums of his own money since coming on board in 2004, he spoke of the return of the “same old stresses and anxieties” after the sport returned to action this month following lockdown.

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With a belief he felt unable to take the Super League club any further, Hudgell - who brought them out of the second tier in 2006 and helped massively improve their Craven Park ground - has now paved the way for new investors to potentially take over.

Hull KR chairman Neil Hudgell: Bowing out. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Clearly, in the current financial climate after the decimating effects of Covid, it remains to be seen if there are any interested parties out there but the search is now on.

In the meantime, in his own statement, Smith said: “Everyone at Hull Kingston Rovers would like to place on record their sincere thanks to Neil Hudgell. Simply put, without Neil we would not have the club we know and love today.

“Over the last 16 years everyone has seen the progress made by the club on and off the field, nothing symbolises that more than the Colin Hutton North Stand which I write to you from today.

“I am sure we will all make time to digest and reflect on the many achievements and contributions Neil has made over the years.

“It has been quite a remarkable journey from Workington to Wembley. “His time, effort and finances have allowed us all to enjoy so many wonderful memories along the way.”

Smith continued: “Throughout his time at the club Neil has of course been supported by so many including directors, staff, players, coaches, former players, sponsors, councillors and of course our loyal supporters.

“Their contributions to our journey should also be recognised.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has brought unprecedented disruption to the club and we remain in a precarious situation.

“I would like to once again go on record to thank all our fans and partners for the unity and support shown since March.”

Smith then confirmed that he will be staying on in his own role through what is sure to be a further period of uncertainty.

“As you may be aware, prior to the pandemic, it was my intention to step down as CEO in May,” he said.

“However, I will remain in position as CEO of the club until a new owner or consortium is found.

“Everyone at the club will continue to work tirelessly to take us forward.

“Whilst the financial picture of 2021 remains unclear, we will continue ‘business as usual’ for 2020 with Tony Smith, our players and all our staff having the full backing of myself and Neil to represent you out on the field as best we can.

“Finally, Neil brought me to the club in 2008. I never would have imagined with his support and encouragement I would go on to become CEO of the club I grew up supporting.

“I personally owe Neil a debt of gratitude for everything he has done for my career and my family.

“The late, great Colin Hutton said Neil is the greatest Chairman we have ever had, and I concur fully.

“After 16 years on the Hull KR roller-coaster, I hope he enjoys his well-earned change of pace.”

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Thank you

James Mitchinson