Hull KR recruit leading businessman to chair dynamic new board as club prepares for lift-off

One of the biggest names in rugby league has announced the appointment of a high profile figure from the world of business to the role of Chair as it brings in new levels of expertise to prepare the club for “lift off”.

Hull Kingston Rovers have recruited Dr Paul Sewell OBE, Chair of award-winning East Hull company Sewell Group, to lead a new board which will work alongside the club’s Chief Executive, Paul Lakin, and support the owner Dr Neil Hudgell. Further additions from business and sport will be confirmed soon as The Robins seek to build on their achievements of the last two years and bring in top class governance and people. One key aim is to maximise the potential of the landmark deal which saw Hull KR complete the purchase in April this year of the Sewell Group Craven Park Stadium. Alongside that is a “top four, grade A” commitment by the club to seize the opportunities presented by the regeneration of Super League and the wider game under the structure outlined by IMG. Neil, the founder of Hudgell Solicitors, said:
“We are ready for lift off having bought the stadium, and a professional board, led by Paul Sewell, is a massive step forward for us in achieving that goal of top four in everything we do. For me, these are exciting times in being involved with this great club.
“I have been involved with Hull KR since early childhood. I have experienced rugby in this city at the very best and worst of times. I have had the privilege of getting to know very well iconic names synonymous with The Robins, including Roger Millward, Colin Hutton, Phil Lowe and Mike Smith. We have never been better positioned to elevate the club back towards that level than we are now, having put in place solid foundations over the last two to three years.”
Paul Sewell said:
“One of the main things that attracted me is the revitalisation of the game itself through Super League’s association with worldwide sporting giant IMG.
“Being a rising club in a declining game is counter intuitive to me so I’m heartened that, through Paul Lakin, Hull KR have been at the centre of driving this change and modernisation as a local club, owned and controlled in Hull, by Hull, for Hull!”
Paul Lakin said the new Chair’s involvement – after a life playing and watching football – inspires confidence that Hull KR can attract more quality to the board.
He said: “Both Neil and myself knew there was no better time for us to attract a top drawer Chair and board to support us in taking the club to the next level. We are truly honoured that Paul, a man with an outstanding business pedigree, has accepted the position.
“In the coming days and weeks we aim to announce other exciting appointments and we are continuing to work to identify individuals of the highest calibre who share our vision for Hull KR.”
Sewell Group and Hull KR are anchor institutions in Hull, both dating back more than 140 years. Under Paul Sewell’s leadership the company has expanded into a multi-disciplined organisation employing around 500 people working across construction, investment, facilities management and fuel and convenience stores. The company is still based close to its original home in East Hull, where many of its developments have transformed communities, and has become a serial awards winner, most recently with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Promoting Opportunity and a sixth appearance in The UK’s 100 Best Companies to Work For Awards. The decision to take up the naming rights to the stadium was all about Sewell Group and Hull KR partnering in a joint commitment to the East Hull community. Paul Sewell said:
“My life has been about creating businesses and building their teams and culture – you need this for sustainable success. This is a wonderful club with thoroughly decent people so I hope I can help Neil and Paul get the fans what they deserve.
“This board will NOT be interfering with the playing side – that will be left to the Head Coach and his team, supported by the CEO. Our role is to concentrate on developing the business to be sustainable long into the future.
“Getting things top notch off the pitch doesn’t guarantee results on it, but it does give the playing side a better chance. We have been working quietly behind the scenes during 2022 and I believe we are already in a good place.”
Paul Lakin added:
“Over the last two years there has been significant investment both on and off the field resulting in the club being in a much stronger position than previously.
“The business recruitment off field has given us greater depth of quality personnel that’s delivering both financial and operational growth. This mirrors our on field recruitment strategy, resulting in a 2023 squad that has stability, youth and experience with, arguably for the first time, genuine depth.
“However the real game-changer has been the purchase of Sewell Group Craven Park earlier this year and the unique opportunity to develop both our stadium and surrounding land.”
Further information Craig Franklin, Hull KR Chief Operating Officer