Super League chairman Ken Davy on why any changes to top-flight have to produce lasting impact

Super League is open to change as talks continue with a prospective strategic partner, says chairman Ken Davy.

By Ian Laybourn, PA
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 6:31 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 8:53 am

The successful re-alignment of Super League with the governing body, the Rugby Football League, has paved the way for the formation of a new company to oversee all commercial aspects of the game. The next step will be to appoint a strategic partner, with IMG thought to be the front-runners, and Davy said that the top-flight clubs are ready to listen to any recommendations, however radical they may be.

“The mood of the game is to look very positively at what changes are recommended,” Davy said. “There might be some red lines some have, but, at this moment of time, none of us are looking down that road.

“What we’re looking at is getting people in with real experience instead of just one of us saying, ‘This is a good idea, let’s give it a try’.

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OPEN TO PERSUASION: Super League chairman, Ken Davy. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

“We want to set a foundation and a framework that is going to stand the test of time.”

Rugby league has become synonymous with upheaval and Davy is adamant any changes must be made to last.

“If you plant an apple tree and every 12 months you pull it up to see how the roots are doing, you’re never going to get any fruit,” he said.

“You have to plant the apple tree, nurture it, help it grow, do the things that are necessary to make it grow and grow faster and then you can enjoy the fruit.”

CHANGES: Huddersfield Giants' Will Pryce battles with Hull FC's Adam Swift in the recent Yorkshire Super League derby Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

“It’s not an overnight thing. You can’t flick a switch and double the sport’s income.

“But what we all believe is that this restructure and realignment will enable us to significantly increase the income into the game and, therefore, the profits that feed out into the clubs at every level.”

Davy, 80, who stepped down as chairman of Huddersfield to take the helm following the resignation of Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone just over a year ago, says he expects to remain in post for another four months to oversee the transition.

“It’s taken much longer than I anticipated,” he said. “I thought it would be three to six months so it has taken a lot longer and I’m looking forward to stepping down.

Ken Davy (left) and Pete Andrews, Adam Hills, pictured at the Channel 4 Media Launch at The Majestic in Leeds back in February. Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

“I would hope that perhaps by Magic Weekend I might be out of a job. If not, then perhaps soon after.”

Super League Europe will remain as an entity under the new structure but with limited scope.

“Super League Europe will absolutely still exist,” Davy said. “Super League is best placed for putting on superb matches for spectators, but it won’t need to get involved in any other aspects.

“The RFL is best placed to provide the governance of the game and RL Commercial will represent all the commercial interests and assets of the whole game.

“By focusing all the commercial entities into one business, that will over time significantly increase the overall profits which can be distributed to all the clubs.”

Instead of each club having a representative on the Super League board, Davy says it will be trimmed to just four directors, comprising two independent members, who will also sit on the board of the new commercial company, and two appointed by the clubs, while the nucleus of the staff currently employed by Super League will move over to the new body.

Davy told the briefing that recruitment specialists would be used to unearth the five non-executive directors for the commercial company but the posts would also be advertised and the appointees could be in place by May.