The RFL have announced three significant appointments to strengthen its senior team.
Roger Draper has been appointed to the newly created role of Chief Commercial Officer and Super League Executive Director, Mark Foster will take on the role of Super League General Manager and Tony Sutton will join the organisation as Director of Finance and Facilities.
Draper, who is currently Chief Executive of Super League Club Warrington Wolves, was formerly Chief Executive of the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) between 2006 and 2013 and of Sport England between 2003 and 2006.
As part of his new role, Draper will take a position on the RFL Board and will be responsible for all activity undertaken by the Commercial, Marketing, Communications, Ticketing and Events teams. As the public face of the Super League, he will also work closely with the Super League board and Super League clubs to help with their continued growth and success off the pitch.
Speaking following the announcements, Chief Executive of the RFL, Nigel Wood, said: “We are delighted to have recruited and retained three exceptional individuals to the senior team at the RFL.
“In appointing Roger, we have secured one of the most accomplished sports administrators in the UK. He is not only experienced in running a high performing National Governing Body but also has first-hand knowledge of leading a world-class Rugby League club. Roger has almost 15 years’ experience of working at the very top in British sport and we know that he will bring a wealth of knowledge and understanding to this important role.
“Rugby League and the Super League competition in particular have much to be proud of and I am certain Roger will help continue to get that positive story out to grow all aspects of our sport be that revenues, supporter, viewers or participants.”
A former England students RL international, Draper was responsible for growing turnover at the LTA by 45% and more recently has overseen a major transformation programme at Warrington Wolves both on and off the pitch.
Commenting on his new role at the RFL, Roger Draper, said: “I am delighted to be joining the RFL at an incredibly exciting time for the organisation. The role is an important and challenging position and one that I feel will enable me to add real value to the sport of Rugby League.
“I have spoken at length with Nigel and believe that my experience within the club environment and at other successful NGB’s will help continue to move this organisation forward.
“Whilst I am of course sad to be leaving the Warrington Wolves and in particular the Board, staff, players and fans behind, I am excited to be joining another forward thinking and successful organisation and I can’t wait to get started in December.”
As part of the new senior structure, which includes the recent addition of Rugby Director Kevin Sinfield, Mark Foster has been promoted to the position of Super League General Manager. Foster, who will report into Roger Draper, will focus on working with the Super League clubs to manage high profile events such as the Dacia Magic Weekend and the Super League Grand Final and to help with their work off the field, particularly on new and more innovative ways to engage with fans. Foster will continue to lead the Marketing and Communications functions.
Following the departure of Sue Allan in August, Tony Sutton has been appointed to the role of Director of Finance and Facilities. Sutton has previous experience of working in Rugby League at Hull FC, where he was Chief Operating Officer until 2014. He is currently Chief Operating Officer at Hull Colleges Group and will begin working for the RFL in early 2017.
Chief Executive, Nigel Wood, continued: “Hopefully these significant announcements will demonstrate that we are determined to continue to move our sport forwards in a very positive way, following quickly on the back of other high profile appointments this year. I am confident that Roger, Mark and Tony all have the necessary skills and experience to help us do this and I am certain that their appointments will strengthen our sport in the coming years.”