Having been to watch Dewsbury play Toulouse on Saturday, I think that's the end of my association with Championship football, while franchising promotes the following negatives.
So if franchising has done anything, it's made my decision not to renew my season ticket a forgone conclusion. I'm sure I am not the first or the last.
When we had P & R a few years ago Dewsbury were battling for promotion to SL and IIRC managed an average gate of about 1300 around that time. Last year according to the Gillette yearbook they posted an average of 1263 playing in NL1.
Back at the turn of the millenium Batley returned an average attendance for the season of 837, now after Franchising they return an average attendance of 856.
With the deepest of respect Superleague or Franchising a.k.a. is simply not responsible for the supposed "falling off of attendances" and the "giving up" of spectators in the NL's to the extent often portrayed here. People get fed up with RL and don't bother going for a whole myriad of reasons, it's just so easy to pin things on SL or no P & R.
I recall Dewsbury in 1972-4. I was there at their Yorks Cup Final, famous championship win and their epic semi finals and at that time their Chairman Mick Lumb had a go at the town for not turning up in numbers to watch one of the best Dewsbury teams ever.
If there are low attendances in NL and NL1 your first stop is the creation of a divide between the clubs in NL and NL1. The likes of Keighley, Dewsbury and Batley do not belong in any shape or form next to the Skolars, Gatesheads and blackpools. When the NL clubs were split many chairman of the clubs losing out in the split warned that that would decimate their clubs, and they were right. NL1 is a graveyard.
If the attendances are poor in the NL's then look to the size of the towns that are there to provide spectators. Many are small towns in the very first place, and wouldn't provide much more support for soccer than they do for RL and in places like Workington you can P & R your way all the way up to play Manchester United. But P & R doesn't make for good attendances either at Town (who have it) or at the Workington version of the reds.
Clubs like York, Oldham and Swinton have been on hard times for years, but it wasn't SL who ran them down and sold their wonderful grounds.
If the attendances are low then try looking at the competition. I happen to believe that NL is a marvellous place to have a vibrant competition, but the darn thing doesn't start till well into the season because there's a silly manufactured cup to fill out the too short league season. It's a division in which Batley and Dewsbury should meet every year as should Workington and Whitehaven or keighley and Halifax. But they don't.
If franchising is responsible for anything in the NL's it's using NL as a holding competition for Widnes who should have gone in SL last time, and Toulouse who the RFL bottled out putting in, so as you say, they are dumped on you. But removing Franchising isn't the key to making the best of the NL and taking it forward, it's creating a 14 club NL and bringing back the Workingtons, Rochdales, York's and Oldhams from death valley, dumping out the Superleague wannabees into SL, and getting on with doing the best for
our traditional second tier of small clubs.
Yes many of these small clubs can look back on the success Saints and Leeds have now and conclude that they can do it again. My own club won every trophy in 1908 but that was 1908. The conditions then were low mobility for fans and speccies, high levels of local players such you could get a winning sides from your juniors like Hunslet did in 1908 and like Castleford and Featherstone did in the 1980's in living memory. That has gone and it went before SL ever came along, conditions are different nowadays.
Today we have to set up our game according to the way things are now. The best young players will travel to the bigger clubs and have no loyalty anymore - just a career to develop to pay their bills. The fans will gravitate to the bigger clubs with the best players on show. You no longer support Hunslet because you can't afford the bus fare to Headingley...........
As much as we'd like to, we can't recreate the past. But I do think we should be honest and not take the view that Superleague or Franchising for that matter is what has taken the past away from us.............