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Neil Hudgell: Hull KR owner does not expect Super League to return before July

Neil Hudgell

Neil Hudgell became sole owner and majority shareholder in Hull KR in April 2019

Hull KR owner Neil Hudgell does not expect Super League to resume before July as the game works towards creating a safe environment.

Government guidance says sport may return ‘behind closed doors’ in June, if testing and welfare protocols are put in place and adhered to.

However, players and staff would first need to be de-furloughed before safely returning to training.

Hudgell said “the detail” around such measures is still to be worked through.

“The safety of our players, staff, officials and any guests that would need to enter the stadium to fulfil a fixture remains paramount,” he wrote in a letter to Rovers members.

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“We are though determined to be safely back playing before crowds as soon as we practically can be doing.”

Super League say a group of nominated clubs “continue to examine a number of scenarios” about resuming the campaign, and also maintain that supporters are “at the forefront” of proposals.

The work to reduce the spread of the pandemic in Australia has been successful enough for the government to sanction the NRL’s return on 28 May.

Their players returned to training on 5 May, with phased return to contact, and significantly, a new broadcasting deal.

Meanwhile, Hudgell was one of the more vocal club owners to speak out regarding support for rugby league before the government intervened with a £16m loan.

He confirmed Rovers players and staff had agreed to take pay cuts during the lockdown, but questioned the value of the loan to the sport in the long-term.

“Whilst this is good news in one respect, it merely ‘kicks the can down the road’ in terms of delaying cash flow issues,” Hudgell also wrote.

“The loan cannot be used to pay wages, and is there for those clubs who need it to survive.

“Dialogue continues with the RFL on this matter as at this stage we do not know to what extent we will benefit.”

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