Hull Kingston Rovers chairman Neil Hudgell has revealed that the club have expressed their disappointment to the RFL over a lack of Sunday home fixtures in 2018.
Rovers traditionally prefer to play their home games at 3pm on Sundays but, with TV picks and short turnarounds factored in, just two of their first 11 home games are on a Sunday afternoon next season.
“The reason why the club is playing most of its home games on a Friday is that either the club or its opposition have been selected to be broadcast in the next round on the Thursday by SKY,” was how the Robins said the RFL responded to their disappointment in a statement.
Nearly all of Rovers’ home games last season were on a Sunday afternoon – though that was in the Championship. And Hudgell admitted the club’s “hands are tied” over the matter.
He said: “We share the disappointment of a section of our supporters on this issue and have expressed our feelings on the matter to the RFL. Since we received the first draft of fixtures on Friday, we have been in constant communication with the RFL to resolve the matter as much as possible but to no avail. Unfortunately, our hands are tied.
“It doesn’t seem much of a reward to our fans for their loyalty last year, but we are an ambitious club and there are some benefits to us in achieving those aims. Having the majority of your matches on a Thursday or Friday evening does create some benefits for the performance department in that they have longer turnarounds between fixtures on a more regular basis, which is a positive factor over the course of a long and physical season at Super League level. It was something Tim and the coaching staff were exploring and we had considered playing some games on Friday nights in 2018 for this reason, but certainly not to this extent.”
Hudgell also added that they are trying to provide a number of incentives which will offset the disappointment of no regular Sunday home games – including free travel to Elland Road for their first away game against Leeds.
“However, there is nothing we can do about the situation other than to adapt and do our best to come through stronger in true Rovers spirit. As part of our membership packages for next season, adult members will get the equivalent of six games for free included as standard so we hope this will ensure a membership is still the best option for those who might not be able to make all of our home games. For juniors, this is even better value with the price offering up to 10 home games free of charge as well as free entry to up to 15 away matches over the course of the season.
“We will be working on some other ideas as well to add even more value to our memberships next season and have already put in place free travel for 2018 members to our first away game of the season against Leeds Rhinos at Elland Road, with full details on this to be confirmed in due course.
“Our fans were brilliant in standing with us last year and we need them with us again this time around as we look to build on the momentum we now have towards becoming a force in Super League in the years to come.”