Neil Hudgell Q&A on COVID-19

Category: The Club

Neil Hudgell Q&A on COVID-19

Hull Kingston Rovers Owner Neil Hudgell has spoken to Hull Live about the repercussions of COVID-19 for the club and sport.

First of all, the primary concern right now across the game is the financial stability of clubs and the competition. How concerning is it for yourself?

This is a unique set of circumstances. You would normally generate a cash flow to deal with the best and worst case scenarios. We would over estimate expenses and undersell income lines and owner contributions would fill the gap.

I budgeted for this year on a very cautious basis. What has happened here has clearly thrown a monumental spanner in the works. Whether you play poorly and get 7,000 or play well and get 9,000, you are getting income. If you’re not playing games you get zero income.

As a direct illustration of that we will lose up to £150,000 cash flow for not playing Hull FC on Good Friday. That is just one example in itself. Each club has particular circumstances.

My guess is most clubs will have at least a million pound hole by the end of the season. Hence the call for government assistance. Regardless of what costs we can trim, they are only going to scratch the surface of what that hole we will be left with will be.

The uncertainty of when it will end only seems to add to the problems faced, is that fair?

The trouble is nobody knows when this will end. We have rugby union on shutdown for five weeks and we have agreed to look at it after two weeks.

Given the suggestions this virus won’t peak until June, I think we are being over optimistic to suggest we will be back and functioning in early April, although no decisions have been made. What we have to do is hope for the best but plan for the worst case scenario.

How can you do that?

Rugby League is only a priority for government alongside thousands of other competing interests.

The short term position has to be the priority and that means trying to navigate a path through March and April, by which time hopefully the government position is clarified and we can have some comfort from that.

If we go much beyond that then we start to get into a really critical phase. We don’t want to cause hysteria or unsettlement, but there is an obvious realism that fans will begin to see.

What would you say to the fans?

My message to them is simple. Stick with us and do what you can to help. Similarly to what Adam Pearson said, we also have a very loyal fanbase too.

We also appreciate and understand those fans may be forced into a position where they are placed in a difficult situation with regards to their living needs. Other sectors are laying people off or expecting them to take unpaid leave.

In those circumstances a discretionary spend like sport is the first thing compromised and we respect that.

Some decisions will be taken out of supporters’ hands, but where they can stay loyal and help, we’d hope they do so by doing their little bit to support the club.

The full Q&A is available here.

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