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The SKY contract for RL - good or bad?


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#101 The Parksider

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 03:27 PM

Put it this way - in the past two or three years I don't think there is a single sport that the BBC cover that hasn't had it's coverage either cut back or completely dropped.

(Bar the American Football example, which had slipped my mind and I don't know loads about)


The message seems to be that time has moved on and if the game rejected SKY it would not be able to fall back on the BBC anymore.

Would this make a semi professional game today less financially viable as regards TV noney than it was in 1995?

#102 Northern Sol

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 03:52 PM

In 94 we came close to beating the Aussies. As we have plenty of times since then. We even won in Sydney a few years ago.

I believe we might beat the Aussies at ever game I watch. Whats the point otherwise?


We did beat the Aussies in 1994 in one game out of three but there was an expectation of a possible series win which is obviously something rather more - something that hadn't happened since 1970.

I watch rugby league because I like rugby league. I've turned up to games that I knew where I knew the home team would get stuffed by over 50 points. A lot of people don't.

That's why the attendances are lower today. People believe that we might get the odd win over the Aussies but that we'll never beat them in a series.

#103 Dave T

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 03:54 PM

We did beat the Aussies in 1994 in one game out of three but there was an expectation of a possible series win which is obviously something rather more - something that hadn't happened since 1970.

I watch rugby league because I like rugby league. I've turned up to games that I knew where I knew the home team would get stuffed by over 50 points. A lot of people don't.

That's why the attendances are lower today. People believe that we might get the odd win over the Aussies but that we'll never beat them in a series.

TBH I'd take the odd win against them at the moment!!!!

#104 Ant

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 04:49 PM

Was it 2002 when GB lost 3 matches to Aus, all by less than a score? All wins achieved by Aus (qv Lockyer) in the last minutes of the games?

So damn close that series too, closest I have seen in my life but its dismissed as a whitewash. I could argue that the Aussies then knew they were close to losing a series so changed the format to defend their advantage...

#105 slowdive

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 04:49 PM

To understand if the Sky contract did anything for the game you need to know what was going on prior to it. I have listed below some of the events from the 5 years previous to the SL offer.


January 1990
RFL sign deal with BSB for live Sunday game at 6:30 on a Sunday evening.

February 1990
Wigan announce record £280,000 profit.

March 1990
St.Helens home fixture v Warrington abandoned after 3 minutes after part of roof blows off stand and lands on the pitch

April 1990
BSB announce first ever live coverage of a tour to NZ
Halifax players threaten strike action over unpaid wages, Fax sell Neil James to Leeds for £20k to pay outstanding wages to players.
Barrow list 10 players
Halifax hit with £70,000 tax demand from inland revenue and face winding up order.

June 1990
Halifax hit money troubles and are being adminitered by accountants Price Waterhouse

August 1990
Its revealed that Halifax owe creditors £760,000, Price Waterhouse have trouble off-loading Fax to new buyer because players are in dispute over reduced contracts.

Eventuall resolved and new board take-over.
RFL sign a£1.5m 3 year SatelliteTV deal with British Aerospace, 90 games per season are to be shown in pubs and clubs only, 30 games to be live on Sundays at

1:00PM

September 1990
Runcorn Highfield apply to RFL to be allowed to move to St.Helens Town FC, the move is approved.
Sheffield Eagles move to Don Valley Stadium

October 1990
Runcorn coach Dave Chisnall quits after losing all his 38 games in charge.

November 1990
Second diision clubs hold a crisis meeting to discuss the contract system

December 1990
Leigh start listing players as they hit a financial crisis.
Scarborough anonce intention to apply for membership of the RFL

January 1991
Scarborough admitted as a member club of the RFL by getting the exact minimum votes required.
Arbittration ruling forces the RFL to accept that players from EEC countries are exempt from quotas
Mick Dean of Leigh threatens to sue the club for nonfullfilment of contract.
Rugby League Council recommend acceptance of The Hetherington plan for 3 division of 14, 8 and 14.

April 1991
Leigh enter administration
Wigan Win Challenge Cup for 4th season in a row

May 1991
Runcorn Highfield seek approval for name change to Highfield RLFC
Sheffield Eagles sign their first local recruit, Jason Davidson

June 1991
Doncaster list entire playing rosta of 36 players
Leigh are running out of time for a buyer to step and save the club, fans launch a petition asking for the local council to save the club.
Swinton offer Leigh the option of a ground share at Sation road, they turn it down.
RFL project £17m of sponsorship and TV deals over next five years.

August 1991
Tony Cotteral heads a syndicate that saves Leigh at the last minute.
Wakefield escape threat of closure with fomation of its first ever board of directors.

December 1991
Swinton a bid to resolve cash crisis sever contracts of three Australian imports one of which is also coach.

May 1992
New club Scarborough in financial crisis
RFL agree £3m+ four year deal with BSkyB, deal includes Friday night games from League and Premiership. They also sign a 4 year £2.5m deal withe BBC for the

challenge cup and regal trophy.
Vote on return to two divisions defeated.
Swinton sell Station Road and move to Bury

June 1992
Chorley Borough move to Horwich
Relealed that Scarborough are in trubl with £113,000 of debt they can't pay.

August 1992
Sarborough fold still owing £60,000 to creditors
Two French teams receive invit to play in Regal Trophy, XIII Catalan and Carcassonne

September 1992
Blackpool Gladiators move to Blackpool Mechincs FC

October 1992
Blackpool chairman Alan Sherrat puts the club up for sale at £50k

November 1992
Leigh get High Court reprieve following threat of eviction from Hilton Park.
Swinto coach Tony Barrow accepts pay cut to ease financial worries at the club.

December 1992
RFL propse two divisions of 16 with the three bottom clubs demoted to the Aligance League.
Hull KR players refuse to turn out for a game against Leigh in a pay dispute talks take a week to settle the dispute.

January 1993
Swinton saved from liquidation by a consotium headed by former chairman Malcolm White.

February 1993
Leigh fail in a bid to buy back Hilton Park for £300k

March 1993
League appoint a 3 man study group to investigate switching to summer rugby.
Wigans balance sheet shows loss of £300k on a turnover of £3m (includes £440k paid for Offiah)

June 1993
Leigh are offered a reprieve over their ground problems when they are allowed to stay for 12 months.
Hull FC put 7 players on the transfer list and coach Royce Simmons runs 5 marathons to raise money tp pay for Aussie imports.
Warrington list 13 players for a total of £340k when they refuse lower contract payments
Blackpool, Nottingham and Chorley join new national conference league.
London Crusaders move from Crystal Palace to Copthall Sports Stadium, Barnet.

July 1993
Jonothan Davies gets free transfer to Warrington, thus easing financial pressures at Widnes.

August 1993
Halifax list 7 players for a total of £170,000

November 1993
London Crusaders impose 20% pay cut to ease financial problems.

December 1993
The RFL offer help to London in fing additional or replacement directors.

January1994
Bradford have a clear out, Hobbs and Noble given free transfers, McGowan and Cordle listed at£40k an £15k.
Bramley announce plans to leave McLaren Field and move in with Northern Premier League soccer club Farsley Celtic.
Plans for 1995 Centenary World Cup are threatened by RFU making noises about moving the union World Cup for that year from S.A. to England.

March 1994
Wigan's wage bill tops £2m a year mark.
Huddersfield in administration, administrator says all British players are available and is open to offers.

May 1994
Receivers at Huddersfield sack coach Murphy.

June 1994
Oldham sell Watersheddings for £1.25m to pay-off debts.
Bramley decide to stay at McLaren Field for 12 months.
Widnes look into selling groound to council.
Hunslet look to playing games at McLaren Field instead of Elland Road.
U.S. cable TV company Prime Television pay £1.3m for rights to the centenary World Cup.

July 1994
Government proposals on tabacco advertising threaten lucrative sponsorship deals.
Leigh enter administration.

August 1994
The RFL presents a crisis document Framing the Future, it includes proposals to merge clubs and the setting up of a Premier League.
Clubs give the RFL the nod to formulate plans for a Premier League.
Huddersfield celebrate the opening of the McAlpine Stadium by beating Barrow.

September 1994
The RFL propose a 16 club Premier League.

October 1994
Widnes in more talks with council about sale of ground.

November 1994
Hunslet list 7 players.

December 1994
Leigh appoint their 19th coach in twenty years, Ian Lucas
Doncaster enter administration with debts of £1.4m

February 1995
Salary cap introduced 50% of income can be spent on players with a reduction to 40% in 2 years

March 1995
Leigh secure future at Hilton Park by entering ground share deal with non-League soccer club Horwich RMI
Sheffield Eagles pull out of a proposed merger with Doncaster following a "breach of confidentialty", Sheffield then set to take-over Doncaster in a deal with

administrators, deal falls through after RFL declare Doncaster players as free agents.
Leigh buy club back from administrators.
Take-over bid for Bradford Northern
Doncaster bought from administrators by owners of Tattersfield ground.
Ken Arthurson, head of Australian RL, asks the RFL to reconsider summer rugby proposals as it threatens the international tour cycle.

April 1995
All hell lets loose.

You must be retired.
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#106 slowdive

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 05:04 PM

I think the question perhaps should be does Sky continue to be a good thing for the game. I think the Sky contract has been good for the game but it's time to explore other options if not in order to get a better contract from Sky.
The game needs more money and the obvious way round this is to extract more cash from TV.

I was watching Match of the Day 2 last night and I had to switch the post match summaries off because Hansen and Owen were just really hard to listen to; and I'm a Liverpool fan. Anybody who thinks that RL would have been better off sticking with the BBC are living in cloud cuckoo land tbh. The BBC has always seemed to really undersell the sports it has shown.
In a funny sort of way though I've always felt there is a good case for the BBC to invest in RL given it's remit.
"At times to be silent is to lie. You will win because you have enough brute force. But you will not convince. For to convince you need to persuade. And in order to persuade you would need what you lack: Reason and Right."

#107 Ant

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 06:21 PM

You must be retired.


No

Its just not the first time this argument has come up.

#108 Just to be clear

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 06:56 PM

In short - I'm not sure what choice we had - the BBC don't broadcast regular league games for any sport any more.


Just to be clear, the BBC show up to 3 live Pro12 rugby union matches every round. They also show delayed (but in full) coverage of one SPL match per week on BBC Alba. That in addition to the already mentioned weekly Monday night match from the NFL.

#109 Dave T

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 07:29 PM

Just to be clear, the BBC show up to 3 live Pro12 rugby union matches every round. They also show delayed (but in full) coverage of one SPL match per week on BBC Alba. That in addition to the already mentioned weekly Monday night match from the NFL.

Well done, you won a point on a technicality - go you!

#110 Just to be clear

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 09:55 PM

Well done, you won a point on a technicality - go you!


Just to be clear, it is more than a technicality to refute your claim that the BBC have no interest in broadcasting regular league games in any sport, and your extrapolation from it that the BBC consequently are not an option for the RFL.

Unlike the passive nature of their NFL coverage, where they simply take a feed from the US host broadcaster (originally filling commercial breaks with static graphics, before the NFL funded a studio show), the BBC's rugby union and football coverage is an active one, where they send outside broadcast units to produce the coverage.

The BBC also expanded their Pro12 coverage to include Ulster, Edinburgh, and Glasgow matches in 2010, under the current financial settlement which sees them having to make cuts across the corporation. So even in the current climate they are willing to increase their coverage of regular league games in other sports. Where the public service demand and cost is appropriate, the BBC are interested in regularly broadcasting league games.

There are fundamental differences in how BBC nations are funded and run that allows them a level of freedom that BBC English regions do not have, but if the RFL were willing to put the value of exposure ahead of the much greater income that comes from subscription TV then the BBC can be an option. While rugby league is not important to the BBC nationally, it is significant to BBC North, not only through them funding the Super League Show but also the level of coverage provided by their radio stations and online.

Were a financially acceptable deal possible,it is not impossible to envisage a situation like that with Scrum V, having matches shown live on BBC one in the north and nationally via the red button. Though personally I think it highly unlikely as the increased exposure is not as valuable as some on here seem to think that financially the BBC and the RFL will be too far apart.

#111 John Rhino

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 09:58 PM

Been listening to this scenario for 60 years.
Semi Pro rugby league (which would be the way the game would go) is and was a great product, no it wouldn't die eve if Union "wiped the floor with us" as you say, It certainly cant wipe the floor with us as a specticle, never will, no matter how many rules they change or how many "sugar daddies" they have willing to to loose £millions.


And I've been watching Rugby for over 50 years and trust me back then it was far from a spectacle (relative to today) on most days.

If Union had gone pro then they would simply have moved beyond us in terms of fitness, technique and funds for any Rugby player that showed promise. No school would play the game and any semi pro club would slide into bankrupcy as they did regularly before Sky, the difference being they would never return.

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#112 Dave T

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:08 PM

Just to be clear, it is more than a technicality to refute your claim that the BBC have no interest in broadcasting regular league games in any sport, and your extrapolation from it that the BBC consequently are not an option for the RFL.

Unlike the passive nature of their NFL coverage, where they simply take a feed from the US host broadcaster (originally filling commercial breaks with static graphics, before the NFL funded a studio show), the BBC's rugby union and football coverage is an active one, where they send outside broadcast units to produce the coverage.

The BBC also expanded their Pro12 coverage to include Ulster, Edinburgh, and Glasgow matches in 2010, under the current financial settlement which sees them having to make cuts across the corporation. So even in the current climate they are willing to increase their coverage of regular league games in other sports. Where the public service demand and cost is appropriate, the BBC are interested in regularly broadcasting league games.

There are fundamental differences in how BBC nations are funded and run that allows them a level of freedom that BBC English regions do not have, but if the RFL were willing to put the value of exposure ahead of the much greater income that comes from subscription TV then the BBC can be an option. While rugby league is not important to the BBC nationally, it is significant to BBC North, not only through them funding the Super League Show but also the level of coverage provided by their radio stations and online.

Were a financially acceptable deal possible,it is not impossible to envisage a situation like that with Scrum V, having matches shown live on BBC one in the north and nationally via the red button. Though personally I think it highly unlikely as the increased exposure is not as valuable as some on here seem to think that financially the BBC and the RFL will be too far apart.

I didn't state they had no interest, I made the point that they don't cover the major sports - I meant the biggest leagues and the biggest channels.
Red button options and local channels are not an area where RL should be going, and that is my point about it being a technicality.

People are not suggesting that we should be broadcast on BBC Alba.

National BBC1-4 do not regularly broadcast any standard league games from any major leagues in the UK.

I agree with your last line. I wouldn't expect that we could pick up enough ancillary income to cover a large drop in central TV funding.

#113 Johnoco

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:24 PM

So......what was this offer from the BBC all about? How much etc?

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#114 The Parksider

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 06:59 AM

If Union had gone pro then they would simply have moved beyond us in terms of fitness, technique and funds for any Rugby player that showed promise. No school would play the game and any semi pro club would slide into bankrupcy as they did regularly before Sky, the difference being they would never return.


One of the arguments made against Superleague was that without SKY and professional RL the player base would not suffer. I researched where all the adults/kids come from to form junior sides whose best go on to be professionals and it's overwhelmingly from Superleague areas. Big attractive "see us on TV, see us on the news" Superleague clubs seem to pull the kids in.

I know the CC clubs don't.

But I'm told what inspires, attracts and facilitates the development of kids is RL development officers. That's what I'm told gets the kids playing, keeps them playing and inspires them to uproot and find SL academies to join.

Thank you for your opinion.

#115 The Parksider

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 07:03 AM

Were a financially acceptable deal possible,it is not impossible to envisage a situation like that with Scrum V, having matches shown live on BBC one in the north and nationally via the red button.


Well it seems to be an opinion that the value of RL to the BBC would be greatly reduced from pre-SKY levels.

Would the BBC be interested in regional semi professional sport with no RU stars.

i.e a "poor relation". When Scott Quinnel and Jonathan Davies were prancing around Wigan and Wides and RU was a mudbath was the value of the game far greater than it would be today?

Would going semi pro = far less TV money than pre 1996?

#116 The Parksider

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 07:07 AM

We did beat the Aussies in 1994 in one game out of three but there was an expectation of a possible series win which is obviously something rather more - something that hadn't happened since 1970.

I watch rugby league because I like rugby league. I've turned up to games that I knew where I knew the home team would get stuffed by over 50 points. A lot of people don't.

That's why the attendances are lower today. People believe that we might get the odd win over the Aussies but that we'll never beat them in a series.


One one hand one would worry what the scores/attendances would be if we went semi-professional.

However people say the best British RL players would go to Australia, where some say they could hone their skills and develop better as players.

Could such a Great Britain team do BETTER against Australia and attract BIGGER crowds in the way New Zealand players playing in the NRL have provided NZ with their competitiveness??

#117 sheddings69

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 07:52 AM

One of the arguments made against Superleague was that without SKY and professional RL the player base would not suffer. I researched where all the adults/kids come from to form junior sides whose best go on to be professionals and it's overwhelmingly from Superleague areas. Big attractive "see us on TV, see us on the news" Superleague clubs seem to pull the kids in.

I know the CC clubs don't.

But I'm told what inspires, attracts and facilitates the development of kids is RL development officers. That's what I'm told gets the kids playing, keeps them playing and inspires them to uproot and find SL academies to join.

Thank you for your opinion.


Or it could just be the money of course!

#118 The Parksider

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:34 AM

Or it could just be the money of course!


Well it could couldn't it.

If there's no money in British RL it probably won't attract the players whether an aspiring kid or a seasoned pro who has just had his redundancy notice due to pulling the SKY plug.

#119 Futtocks

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:41 AM

Was it 2002 when GB lost 3 matches to Aus, all by less than a score? All wins achieved by Aus (qv Lockyer) in the last minutes of the games?

So damn close that series too, closest I have seen in my life but its dismissed as a whitewash. I could argue that the Aussies then knew they were close to losing a series so changed the format to defend their advantage...


So close that the series featured heavily on an Australian DVD called 'Great Escapes of Rugby League'.

But it didn't fit the "we're further behind the Aussies than ever" argument, so it never happened, right? ;)

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#120 sheddings69

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:06 AM

Well it could couldn't it.

If there's no money in British RL it probably won't attract the players whether an aspiring kid or a seasoned pro who has just had his redundancy notice due to pulling the SKY plug.


As always your right Parky, RL did not attract a single decent player before SKY.....

Edited by sheddings69, 11 December 2012 - 10:07 AM.





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