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dark times ahead


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#21 Maximus Decimus

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 01:41 PM

What frustrates me about all of this is that we are not alone in finding things difficult, yet we are the only sport to shout it from the rooftops!
 
The RU premiership will post is third season in a row of declining attendance figures, Wasps have just been saved from going bust, and only managed to pay their players over xmas by another £1m director loan, Bath just posted a £2.8m loss, an increase of £1m from last year, bringing their total debt to over £12m since 2005.  Saracens have lost another £6m, bringing their loss over the past 6 years to over £30m.  Wasps are in a similar position to Bath and god knows what sale, LW,  are like.
 
Yet I have still to see an article from one of their key presenters/journalists stating how bad a shape their game is in.  I think in RL every single journalist has had a pop this year because after years of growth we are seeing a slight decline in attendances.  
 
The game is better than ever with closer scorelines and less uncertainty, the International profile is growing, we have a WC in 6 months time where 15-20% of the overall tickets have gone already, and we have a number of partner sponsors which we haven't had in previous years.
 
We've just found out that for 6 weeks at the end of the year there will be live International RL on the main terrestrial channel, and we've already sold the rights to 2014, 2016 and 2017 international competitions.  Premier sports are a new RL bidder for top level RL, and it looks like their package will be available on Sky and Virgin in time for the WC.  Brilliant
 
Viewing numbers show we are still the second highest watched sport on Sky, and now we have competition from another broadcaster for RL rights.  With BT vision also entering the sports arena, come then next round of bidding for TV rights we should get an even better deal.
 
Salford and Bradford are under new exciting management, Wakefield have steadily improved since AG took over, Leeds have announced record profits, Wigan, Saints, Hull FC, Catalan, Huddersfield, Widnes and Warrington are all going strong and here to stay, leaving 3 out of 14 clubs with question marks over them 
 
Yet once again because 20% of our clubs are struggling we focus on that, rather than the 80% that are doing well.
 
Yes, things can be better, but as a sport if we want to get better we need to focus on the good things and develop them.  No business model will ever work if you change fundamental things to improve a poor minority - you work with the poor minority to get them up to the same level as the better majority.

You're completely right about being the sport that shouts it loudest from the rooftops. As we discussed last week, some fans seem to almost want it to decline so that they can have a good moan about it.

#22 Dave T

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 02:14 PM

What was he actually saying is wrong?

 

It was one of the most shallow articles I have read in a while. I wonder if he is in a grump about not working on the World Cup.

 

Didn't Clarke used to work for the RFL as Eng/GB Manager and gave up on that, moaning?

 

BTW - not criticising him for saying things are wrong, it would be foolish to ignore that or bury your head in the sand, but I don't know what he is saying is wrong.



#23 RidingPie

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 02:44 PM

I thought he was saying that the game is in decline, but he doesn't know what is wrong, and that better people than him are needed to work that out.

 

If I've understood that correctly I'm not sure I can disagree.



#24 Dave T

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 02:57 PM

So theses are the things he points out:

 

1 ) SL is heading for dark times unless something changes - this is just a headline

 

2 ) No major sponsor - disappointing, but the reality is that £1m worth of income split 15 ways is a relatively small amount per club anyway. The message it sends is not great, but in the current climate, things are tough we just have to live with it. Why not point out that we have attracted new sponsor deals this year from Foxy, Tetleys, Kingstone Press, Brut, Heinz etc?

 

3 ) Hull KR backer wants to stop spending - nothing new here - it has happened loads of times through history, in all sports not just ours - why not point out about the two new sets of investors at Bulls and Salford?

 

4 ) London's crowds going down - again, this pretty much could have been pointed out for the last 10 years, but I agree this one is pretty hard to defend!

 

5 ) No player pathway (DR is a disaster) - opinion, fair enough, DR is not popular, and there has to be concerns around the fact that some players have literally nowhere to play if not selected at first team level. Clubs like Wigan and Leeds who have great systems decided that the old system did not work, we should assume that there will be changes next year.

 

6 ) No Hull halfback - pretty minor point.

 

7 ) Directors discussing reducing SL - so they should - they should always be reviewing the structures to make sure they are happy with them. This should involve reducing and expanding.

 

 

There is nothing new there, or particularly interesting.


Edited by Dave T, 11 April 2013 - 02:59 PM.


#25 Maximus Decimus

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 03:41 PM

So theses are the things he points out:
 
1 ) SL is heading for dark times unless something changes - this is just a headline
 
2 ) No major sponsor - disappointing, but the reality is that £1m worth of income split 15 ways is a relatively small amount per club anyway. The message it sends is not great, but in the current climate, things are tough we just have to live with it. Why not point out that we have attracted new sponsor deals this year from Foxy, Tetleys, Kingstone Press, Brut, Heinz etc?
 
3 ) Hull KR backer wants to stop spending - nothing new here - it has happened loads of times through history, in all sports not just ours - why not point out about the two new sets of investors at Bulls and Salford?
 
4 ) London's crowds going down - again, this pretty much could have been pointed out for the last 10 years, but I agree this one is pretty hard to defend!
 
5 ) No player pathway (DR is a disaster) - opinion, fair enough, DR is not popular, and there has to be concerns around the fact that some players have literally nowhere to play if not selected at first team level. Clubs like Wigan and Leeds who have great systems decided that the old system did not work, we should assume that there will be changes next year.
 
6 ) No Hull halfback - pretty minor point.
 
7 ) Directors discussing reducing SL - so they should - they should always be reviewing the structures to make sure they are happy with them. This should involve reducing and expanding.
 
 
There is nothing new there, or particularly interesting.

I think it's easy to dismiss the article based on the individual points that he makes but I think the overall point - that Super League is potentially heading for some hard times, is a sound one. When he talks about papering over the cracks, I think he is referring to facts like that without wealthy backers, very few clubs can afford SL. It might seem like it has always been the case and it is true that other sports have the problem but if the game does see a slide in attendance and therefore revenue, we are only going to see less money men in the game leading to some serious problems.

We had 2 clubs effectively collapse last year and both have only partially recovered and I'm not sure Salford ever will; the town showed considerable apathy to the idea of saving them. We have a number of others seemingly waiting for their turn to collapse when their backer gives up: London, Hull KR, Huddersfield, Castleford, Widnes etc There aren't the clubs to replace them any more if they do. This will in turn have an effect on the bigger clubs if the overall health of the sport is deemed to be weak.

Of course some may see new backers come in but there is a real feeling of fragility around the game at the top level. I think Hudgell's recent actions and comments have highlighted this. It may never happen but I think we could see a mini-implosion of SL if attendances start to decline across all clubs. I think it's this general feeling that Clarke is referring to.

We've had a number of years of growth but in some ways this has been built on sand. A reversal of this growth could have some serious consequences for the sport. The best point that Clarke made was that despite having serious trouble in the past, the world has changed and in today's world we might not survive similar crises.

Edited by Maximus Decimus, 11 April 2013 - 03:43 PM.


#26 chuffer

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 03:45 PM

I would agree that it's largely due to outside factors, the economy etc.....if we can ride out the storm and people start getting some disposable income again crowds will be ok



#27 Maximus Decimus

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 03:49 PM

I would agree that it's largely due to outside factors, the economy etc.....if we can ride out the storm and people start getting some disposable income again crowds will be ok

I don't think it's even largely the economy, I think regardless of the economy we are up against it in the medium-term.

#28 London Dick

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 03:58 PM

What was he actually saying is wrong?

 

It was one of the most shallow articles I have read in a while. I wonder if he is in a grump about not working on the World Cup.

 

Didn't Clarke used to work for the RFL as Eng/GB Manager and gave up on that, moaning?

 

BTW - not criticising him for saying things are wrong, it would be foolish to ignore that or bury your head in the sand, but I don't know what he is saying is wrong.

 

 

I must admit one of my first thoughts when reading it was that it was timed perfectly following the announcement of the World Cup Broadcasting partners. 


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#29 Gruff

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 04:00 PM



Of course some may see new backers come in but there is a real feeling of fragility around the game at the top level. I think Hudgell's recent actions and comments have highlighted this. It may never happen but I think we could see a mini-implosion of SL if attendances start to decline across all clubs. I think it's this general feeling that Clarke is referring to.

 

 This for me is the biggest issue at hand - "the feeling" we are getting.  This "feeling" comes from the constant negativity towards our game.

 

For years some vocal RL fans have cried out that our sport is propped up by SKY, and that it is in the doldrums because no-one else is interested in it.  Yet as soon as one does show an interest i.e. Premier Sports those same people start shouting out they are not the right company and why didn't we get x, y or z

 

It's the same people who mocked the GB team for having one non-eng player in it, then moaned when GB was split into nations to give a greater national presence, and now mock when it might be coming back (irregularly) as there might not be anyone other than Eng players in it.

 

It's the same people who openly mock International attendances and then don't go themselves.  

 

It's the same people who mocked the Magic weekend for going to Cardiff and Edinburgh and the attendances it got, then mock it again when it is in Manchester and still don't go.

 

There is a very vocal derogatory section of RL fans that perpetuate this negative feeling throughout the sport, which is then picked up on by fans of other sports, media, investors, sponsors etc... and to me it is them that are the real reason RL is held back.



#30 Dave T

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 04:02 PM

I think it's easy to dismiss the article based on the individual points that he makes but I think the overall point - that Super League is potentially heading for some hard times, is a sound one. When he talks about papering over the cracks, I think he is referring to facts like that without wealthy backers, very few clubs can afford SL. It might seem like it has always been the case and it is true that other sports have the problem but if the game does see a slide in attendance and therefore revenue, we are only going to see less money men in the game leading to some serious problems.

We had 2 clubs effectively collapse last year and both have only partially recovered and I'm not sure Salford ever will; the town showed considerable apathy to the idea of saving them. We have a number of others seemingly waiting for their turn to collapse when their backer gives up: London, Hull KR, Huddersfield, Castleford, Widnes etc There aren't the clubs to replace them any more if they do. This will in turn have an effect on the bigger clubs if the overall health of the sport is deemed to be weak.

Of course some may see new backers come in but there is a real feeling of fragility around the game at the top level. I think Hudgell's recent actions and comments have highlighted this. It may never happen but I think we could see a mini-implosion of SL if attendances start to decline across all clubs. I think it's this general feeling that Clarke is referring to.

We've had a number of years of growth but in some ways this has been built on sand. A reversal of this growth could have some serious consequences for the sport. The best point that Clarke made was that despite having serious trouble in the past, the world has changed and in today's world we might not survive similar crises.

 

There are a couple of things happening though IMHO.

 

Firstly, there is the backdrop of the economy just making things really really tough. Everybody is struggling, in every sport.

 

Secondly - the likes of Cas and Salford struggling is just the standard process that the weaker clubs often go through. I think the decision to move to 14 clubs was a bad one, and I would support a reduction. The fact that it was made in the worst of financial climates suggests it was the wrong thing to do.

 

I think there are some important decisions to be made, but if I'm honest, I don;t think we are on a slippery slope, or on the road to ruin, we just need to ensure we make the right decisions during this period.

 

I think this is in reality all Clarke was saying, but went with some gloomy dark headline without really having the disastrous facts to support it.



#31 Ant

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 04:04 PM

You want to improve the game

Demand a general election

#32 foozler

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 04:41 PM

What frustrates me about all of this is that we are not alone in finding things difficult, yet we are the only sport to shout it from the rooftops!

 

The RU premiership will post is third season in a row of declining attendance figures, Wasps have just been saved from going bust, and only managed to pay their players over xmas by another £1m director loan, Bath just posted a £2.8m loss, an increase of £1m from last year, bringing their total debt to over £12m since 2005.  Saracens have lost another £6m, bringing their loss over the past 6 years to over £30m.  Wasps are in a similar position to Bath and god knows what sale, LW,  are like.

 

Yet I have still to see an article from one of their key presenters/journalists stating how bad a shape their game is in.  I think in RL every single journalist has had a pop this year because after years of growth we are seeing a slight decline in attendances.  

 

The game is better than ever with closer scorelines and less uncertainty, the International profile is growing, we have a WC in 6 months time where 15-20% of the overall tickets have gone already, and we have a number of partner sponsors which we haven't had in previous years.

 

We've just found out that for 6 weeks at the end of the year there will be live International RL on the main terrestrial channel, and we've already sold the rights to 2014, 2016 and 2017 international competitions.  Premier sports are a new RL bidder for top level RL, and it looks like their package will be available on Sky and Virgin in time for the WC.  Brilliant

 

Viewing numbers show we are still the second highest watched sport on Sky, and now we have competition from another broadcaster for RL rights.  With BT vision also entering the sports arena, come then next round of bidding for TV rights we should get an even better deal.

 

Salford and Bradford are under new exciting management, Wakefield have steadily improved since AG took over, Leeds have announced record profits, Wigan, Saints, Hull FC, Catalan, Huddersfield, Widnes and Warrington are all going strong and here to stay, leaving 3 out of 14 clubs with question marks over them 

 

Yet once again because 20% of our clubs are struggling we focus on that, rather than the 80% that are doing well.

 

Yes, things can be better, but as a sport if we want to get better we need to focus on the good things and develop them.  No business model will ever work if you change fundamental things to improve a poor minority - you work with the poor minority to get them up to the same level as the better majority.

 

Thank you.



#33 cookey

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 05:09 PM

I notice he didn't mention the standard/quality of the commentary team.



#34 John Rhino

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 05:28 PM

This for me is the biggest issue at hand - "the feeling" we are getting. This "feeling" comes from the constant negativity towards our game.

For years some vocal RL fans have cried out that our sport is propped up by SKY, and that it is in the doldrums because no-one else is interested in it. Yet as soon as one does show an interest i.e. Premier Sports those same people start shouting out they are not the right company and why didn't we get x, y or z

It's the same people who mocked the GB team for having one non-eng player in it, then moaned when GB was split into nations to give a greater national presence, and now mock when it might be coming back (irregularly) as there might not be anyone other than Eng players in it.

It's the same people who openly mock International attendances and then don't go themselves.

It's the same people who mocked the Magic weekend for going to Cardiff and Edinburgh and the attendances it got, then mock it again when it is in Manchester and still don't go.

There is a very vocal derogatory section of RL fans that perpetuate this negative feeling throughout the sport, which is then picked up on by fans of other sports, media, investors, sponsors etc... and to me it is them that are the real reason RL is held back.


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#35 South Wakefield Sharks

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 06:56 PM

This for me is the biggest issue at hand - "the feeling" we are getting.  This "feeling" comes from the constant negativity towards our game.
 
For years some vocal RL fans have cried out that our sport is propped up by SKY, and that it is in the doldrums because no-one else is interested in it.  Yet as soon as one does show an interest i.e. Premier Sports those same people start shouting out they are not the right company and why didn't we get x, y or z
 
It's the same people who mocked the GB team for having one non-eng player in it, then moaned when GB was split into nations to give a greater national presence, and now mock when it might be coming back (irregularly) as there might not be anyone other than Eng players in it.
 
It's the same people who openly mock International attendances and then don't go themselves.  
 
It's the same people who mocked the Magic weekend for going to Cardiff and Edinburgh and the attendances it got, then mock it again when it is in Manchester and still don't go.
 
There is a very vocal derogatory section of RL fans that perpetuate this negative feeling throughout the sport, which is then picked up on by fans of other sports, media, investors, sponsors etc... and to me it is them that are the real reason RL is held back.

Spot on. The biggest problem the sport has, is the number of people associated with it, who don't seem to actually enjoy it. Many of them are people who earn their living from the sport.

#36 BBR

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:36 PM

I thought it was a pretty big call for an employee to raise negative issues about the game he is paid and employed to comment on.
Many employees would never be negative about their Job in public.
Good on him for being so frank.

 

Unless he knows that Sky are pulling the plug after the current deal and so can say what he wants as he will be losing his job anyway?



#37 BBR

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:49 PM

Spot on. The biggest problem the sport has, is the number of people associated with it, who don't seem to actually enjoy it. Many of them are people who earn their living from the sport.

 

Agree too. As a newish fan to RL, I am amazed at how many people complain, don't turn out for big games and belittle anyone who has not got a history/knowledge of the game.

 

Shame



#38 Mushy

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 08:25 PM

Great post by Gruff.

Plenty of room for improvement in RL in the UK and worldwide but it's not in decline at all. Things aren't all rosy of course but they never have been in the 30 years I have been following the sport. Plenty have prepared obituaries for RL or given us 5 years and yet we are still here.

I love my rugby league, and proudly and honestly tell plenty people I encounter how wonderful the sport is. Rugby League is a great platform for free speech, and Clarkey's piece is another example of this. But I do fundamentally disagree with the 'game is in decline' line which implies somehow it was once a lot better - because I' d not seen it... and I used to be a shareholder of the Thunder too!

#39 Lounge Room Lizard

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 08:42 PM

The game is in a mess and not just at the Pro level. People can dream that things are not too bad. But they are especially with the fighting between pro and amateur clubs and leagues over youth players. I think its sad,the way the RFL and clubs paper over the cracks and ignore the problems is a disgrace. I think the game not just the RFL needs a major rethink and a plan put in place that will benefit all not just a select few. The amateur game needs help and support for example. The fighting over players is destroying the game at times. See here http://www.nwc13-15a...hp?f=20&t=30156
I can never understand why you would ask players or coaches on what is wrong with the game. How many of them have an idea on finances or business management? How many have been or are on a board or committee of a club or League? Whilst its good to hear what players or coaches would like to see happen, to ask them how we can improve the state of the game is wrong for me. I think we need a whole new set of people running the game and taking some of the power away from clubs. We need to have a reviewat how we can improve things at SL, Championship, Academy, Open Age amateur, youth rugby and try and get people working more together. Forget trying to copy Australia. The game in the UK needs something to fit what it wants to achieve. The game is a fantastic product no matter what level its played at. We have some fantastic people often giving their time and money. But we need a much better admistration of things. I feel thats what really annoys people and what needs sorting before the game can look to go forward

#40 Doghead

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 09:38 PM

Waited most of the day for Sky to put up my comment, pointed out that the future of the game looks to be in the hands of other service providers, now that Premier Sports show more League than Sky and the BBC have secured rights to the next two World Cups.




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