MP weighs into Academy licence row

THE MP for Hull East has called on the RFL and Super League to reconsider the withdrawal of Hull KR’s elite Academy status, along with that of Bradford and Castleford.

Rovers are seeking an urgent independent review into the controversial decision not to grant them a licence for the 2022-27 period and how it was arrived at.

Neighbours Hull are among ten clubs who were successful in the application process.

Labour MP Karl Turner has asked the government’s sports minister Nigel Huddleston to support Rovers’ call.

“Hull KR, an institution of my city with nearly 140 years of proud history, are being denied the opportunity to develop their future,” he wrote in a letter to Huddleston.

“Thousands of supporters in my constituency are rightly furious at this decision.

“Given the difficulties presented by Covid-19 to the normal assessment process, clubs were given five weeks to submit a paper-only application, with no site visits undertaken by decision-making bodies.

“Hull KR’s application was rejected despite their possession of an elite licence since 2019 and their 18 months of progress through a four-year development plan which was approved by governing bodies.

“The club and fans firmly view the move as favouring one of the city’s clubs over another, as Hull FC have had their application approved, on the supposed basis that Hull and the wider area do not have sufficient young players to maintain two elite Academies.

“Rugby League is thriving in Hull, with thousands of young players participating at community level. Therefore the governing bodies must urgently clarify on what basis Hull KR’s application has been rejected.”

Turner added: “When Academy players have barely been able to throw a ball for 15 months, the decision at the very moment their lives are returning to normal could not have come at a worse time.”

Castleford, meanwhile, have launched a formal challenge to the decision, saying they believe it is “detrimental to the welfare and careers of the 70-plus young players on youth programmes currently, to the local community clubs who have players who dream of playing for Castleford Tigers and to long-term planning of homegrown talent playing at the club”.