Structure uncertainty threatening Rochdale’s future, warns CEO

Rochdale CEO Steve Kerr has stressed that arguments about Rugby League’s future are threatening the future of clubs after the Hornets saw a potential investor pull out because of the lack of transparency surrounding the league structure.

The Championship part-timers are currently seeking new investment, with the club trying to steer its way through some testing financial times.

It appeared the club had managed to do just that after talks with an unnamed individual. However, those talks have now stalled, with Kerr blaming the game’s uncertain future.

“We’re trying to get some answers from the RFL but they aren’t willing to give us any,” said Kerr.

“And they don’t have the answers around the structure. As such, these conversations have now stalled. The investors aren’t willing to resume those until they know what they are buying into. That’s the reality.

“We’re in a very difficult position where we are seeking investment, we want to progress our club, but, because of the huge uncertainty, we really are asking people to take a massive leap of faith.

“Our financial situation is well-documented. We’re coming through a difficult period where we’ve been working very hard to reduce our liabilities and to reduce our operational costs. As any Championship club will tell you, budgets are extremely tight, so to miss out on any opportunity is disastrous.

“We can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that people want to invest in the sport and this club, but they can’t move forward until the sport moves forward and gets its own house in order. Right now those discussions have stalled and it’s a big blow.”

Rochdale’s playing staff have already taken a pay cut to ease the pressure on the club, and, although Kerr insisted the club’s short-term future is not under threat as a result, he warned that further indecisiveness will put clubs across the game in difficult positions.

“I wouldn’t say we’re in a position where we need an investor to come in and save the club, absolutely not, but you know yourself that these things don’t happen overnight and if we continue to push things back it will take longer to get things over the line. The longer we leave it, the more damage it will do to the club.

“We have growth targets as a club and we’re not looking for someone to bail us out. Our goals right now are to become a sustainable Championship club and push up the league. To do that we need additional revenues, but also we need these investors to open up commercial opportunities and networks. We’re missing out on those opportunities because people are not wanting to be associated with us because of the position the sport is in.”

He continued: “Our focus should be on driving more spectators into the game. We should be focused on new commercial partners, more revenue streams and a new broadcasting deal. How are all these things perceived now when we don’t know what we’re doing? I can’t imagine it would be perceived very well. The fact that there’s still a question mark over next season doesn’t give you confidence in the sport.”