Rugby League: Rochdale Hornets Chairman Mark Wynn steps down

Date published: 11 May 2018

Rochdale Hornets can confirm that Mark Wynn has announced he is stepping down from his role as chairman and also from the board of Rochdale Hornets at next month’s annual general meeting after ten years in the post.

Mr Wynn took over as chairman in 2009 following the reformation of the club as a supporters owned organisation, working in the role on a voluntary basis alongside his day job, where he runs Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Circle.

Following the original club going into administration due to debts of around £850,000, the ‘new’ club was managed by Sponsorbank, a third party management company appointed by the Rugby Football League, who subsequently lost a further £120,000.

Once Mr Wynn took over in his role as chairman, alongside a newly formed board and office staff, the club managed to straddle the financial issues and eventually broke even the year after - he regards this as one of his and the supporter owned club's greatest successes.

He said: “It almost comes across as trivial but I’m walking away with all taxes paid and they have been paid for the full duration of my tenure, the rent has been paid for the full duration of my tenure and I can hang my hat on the playing side and the business side but it’s difficult to put a pin on just one thing.

“When I took over the previous administration had gone into administration, when they finished counting it was something like £850,000 in debt. A management company was brought in in the interim and when I finally took over they had lost a further £120,000 in the first season. We turned that around and broke even the following year. That must rank alongside beating Toulouse in Toulouse.”

On the field though the club floated around the play-off places from 2010 to 2012, reaching the semi-final under John Stankevitch.

In 2013 the club clinched a historic Grand Final victory over neighbours Oldham to gain promotion to the Championship under Ian Talbot, their first trophy win in 91 years.

Just three years later, with Alan Kilshaw as coach, Hornets recorded a historic victory in France defeating the unbeaten Toulouse Olympique in the League One final to be crowned champions, making the 2016 team the first Rochdale Hornets side that could call themselves champions in 97 years.

Further changes to the board also sees directors Wendy Hamer and Luke Harrison step away from their duties as the club looks to develop its leadership model.

Fresh focus and investment from committed individuals is required to allow the club to continue to grow and become sustainable in the Championship and build towards the long term aspiration of Super League.

Mr Wynn said: “We need dedicated, committed people with the interest of the club and the game at heart to take it forward. There are plenty of people out there, and plenty of talented people in this town with Rochdale Hornets in their heart. I’m asking them to come forward and put their hat in the ring.

“I will support you if you need me to support you or I will step back if that’s what you need me to do, but whatever happens we need to make sure that Rochdale Hornets progress and those two trophies that we won, that broke the 90 odd year old records aren’t the last.”

Hornets CEO Steve Kerr will be tasked with sourcing a successor to drive the club forward and he knows whoever takes on the role has big shoes to fill.

He said: “It’s never easy being the chairman of a club, and with Mark at the helm the club has enjoyed its most successful period.

“Mark leaves a fantastic legacy behind and I know that the fans and members of this club will join me in thanking him for all his hard work, commitment and energy.

"I would also like to extend my thanks to Wendy and Luke who have stepped down as directors having worked tirelessly to make this club successful.

“I feel fortunate to still have these people around as it’s important that the club don’t lose the skills and experience of dedicated volunteers.

“In the coming weeks we will be calling our AGM and I hope the membership and spectators put themselves forward to help drive the club forward.

“Our priority is to recruit and put forward strong candidates that will lead this club. We will be unashamedly looking to recruit a blend of skilled, knowledgeable and well connected people to help shape the club's direction. There is an open invitation to discuss and contact me about new opportunities.”

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