Written by John Davidson
Alan Robinson says the rebrand from Coventry Bears to the Midlands Hurricanes is all about ensuring professional rugby league survives in the region.
The Bears will continue to exist, and play in local amateur competitions, but a new regional brand has been formed to play in League 1 in 2022 with the Hurricanes.
The move, announced in November, came about with the cut in funding from the RFL in central distribution to the League 1 clubs.
“It all stemmed back from the current challenges around the game in the moment,” Hurricanes CEO Robinson said.
“In 2020 it became really apparent – as challenging as it was with the pandemic for a lot of the clubs, especially for the League 1 clubs – but when we knew the distribution centrally would be greatly reduced it looked pretty bleak ahead.
“So I think initially I started to think we need to do something different. We’re still a very new club in League 1. If you take Covid out of it, we’ve been now five years in League 1.
“We’ve transitioned from being an amateur club so we’ve been on a real journey of not only discovery in terms of the level of League 1, but everything else that goes along with that. We’ve been developing our own community for a very long time.
“There’s a lot that needs to be in place to sustain a professional club, so when we knew centrally that a lot of money was not going to be available I started to think what can we do differently, how can we develop our business to be able to generate more income.
“And what else could we do to give ourselves a better chance of surviving the cut, but also be able to sustainably grow the club.”
Coventry Bears were formed as an amateur club in 1998 by Robinson and others, and then the Bears joined the third tier semi-professional ranks in 2015.
— Midlands Hurricanes (@HurricanesRLFC) December 27, 2021
New investment has been sourced to launch the Hurricanes, who will now play home games in Birmingham.
“We’re losing a lot of distribution but you can’t just rely on the distribution,” Robinson said.
“The distribution you get is obviously on very well spent in relation to what we do with our squad and what we do with that money, we’re very particular in how we spend it.
“But if we want to grow our business we need other commercial opportunities, and that was another driver on the new Hurricanes concept and what it can bring…The bottom line is we’re still an expansion area.
“We needed to make ourselves more attractive, we need to be able to grow a new audience all the time and open new doors to food and drink, and hospitality.”