Structure change needed to attract new investors, says Tony Smith

Hull KR head coach Tony Smith has reaffirmed his stance on the return of licensing and believes it would bring new investors into the sport.

Despite scrapping the Super 8s format at the start of 2019, last season saw half of Super League at risk of relegation going into the final few weeks of the season.

This put several clubs in a perilous financial position going forward and Smith believes this type of uncertainty stops investors showing any interest in rugby league.

“I don’t think promotion and relegation enhances or suits our sport,” he told Serious About RL at Super League’s launch event on Friday.

“The system is suited to other sports but not to ours. It makes it so difficult for so many clubs to attract people to be investors into it.

“We need to be very careful how we treat people that invest in our sport and if they walk away then a lot of teams would fold.

“I’m not sure there is an abundance of people out there ready to put their hand up to replace them and we need to consider how we attract more of them investors so we can get more money in.

“There are business reasons why we should be considering other options but I don’t think it will change soon, so I’m probably wasting my time talking about this again.”

Despite surviving relegation on points difference last season, Rovers finished just six points behind seventh-placed Catalans in one of the most competitive Super League seasons to date.

Hull KR survived relegation on points difference in 2019. Credit: Craig Milner/News Images

Many are predicting another titanic battle to avoid the drop again in 2020, but Smith is hopeful that’s not the case and that the quality of the competition can come to the fore.

“I’m not sure if it will be as close,” said the 53-year-old. “That (last season) was not so healthy for our sport and I hope we don’t see a repeat of it.

“Whilst it created some interest in the bottom, it’s really the top of the league that you want to be looking at.

“Hopefully with some of these new recruits we’ll see a more exciting brand of rugby league.

“That has been my criticism of our sport for the last few years that we have all got into a formula to not lose, to avoid mistakes and kick to the corners.

“Hopefully there will be a bit more risk-taking and a bit more entertainment for the spectators out there, with a high skill level, where we actually produce a bit more entertainment. We will see.”

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