RFL confirm new chief executive: Yorkshireman takes top role

Yorkshireman Tony Sutton has been confirmed as the RFL’s new chief executive.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The 49-year-old, originally from Hull, has been in the role on an interim basis for the past three months, following Ralph Rimmer’s departure in December.

Sutton joined the RFL in January, 2017, as director of finance and facilities and became chief operating officer two years later.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Before that, he was chief operating officer at Hull College Group and spent 13 years with Hull FC in a range of roles including financial controller, finance director and chief operating officer.

New RFL chief executive Tony Sutton. Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com.New RFL chief executive Tony Sutton. Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com.
New RFL chief executive Tony Sutton. Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com.

He will become an executive member of the RFL board, alongside non-executive directors Sandy Lindsay MBE, Dr Rimla Akhtar OBE, Dr Cherrie Daley and chairman Simon Johnson.

Sutton said: “This is a pivotal and exciting time for the sport of rugby league and I am immensely proud and privileged to have been given the opportunity to lead the RFL.

Read More
Kruise Leeming column: Leeds Rhinos in good shape but Castleford Tigers are alw...

“I was new to rugby league when I joined Hull FC, but the best part of 14 years at the club left a deep impression on me, in terms of the importance of our clubs to their fans and the communities in which they are rooted and in the brilliance, athleticism and humility of the players who deliver such a thrilling spectacle.

Ralph Rimmer, who stepped down as RFL chief executive in December. Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com.Ralph Rimmer, who stepped down as RFL chief executive in December. Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com.
Ralph Rimmer, who stepped down as RFL chief executive in December. Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“In six years with the RFL I have seen first-hand the level of commitment delivered by some incredible people, now including RL Commercial.

“We relish the challenges ahead, working with our strategic partners at IMG, our clubs, our broadcast and commercial partners and our many other stakeholders, with a focus on looking after our people and the sport’s participants, maximising our ‘Reimagining Rugby League’ project and continuing to deliver our community strategy, to make our sport as inclusive, accessible and engaging as possible.”

Johnson said Sutton has “made a highly positive impact in the months since he was appointed interim CEO and from our angle has really grown into the role, with a distinctive and different style”.

He added: “He has impressed everyone with his ambition, passion and commitment to creating the right culture for high performance at the RFL.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“He was already well-respected by staff, clubs, partners and other stakeholders. Tony played a key role in the strategic realignment of the sport, as well as developing the relationship with IMG as our partner.

“He will be able to use those relationships and learnings to drive the sport forward at this exciting time.”

Final interviews were held last week. The RFL say candidates from “around the world and the wider sports industry” were assessed by a panel involving club chief executive, partners from Sport England and the media.

Related topics: