As a Londoner who has been watching Rugby League for many years, I've been asking throughout why does it ignore its heartlands in pursuing expansion. I have only though been watching the game since I moved into a League town. For the first 24 years of my life, it didn't register. London has no interest in it. Nor, looking at the attendance in Neath for Wales v Cook Islands, does South Wales. I was at the half full Millennium for the opening games. It wasn't exactly busting with Welsh folk either.
The crowds at Halifax, Leigh, Workington, Avignon have all shown that there is still an appetite for the game in its traditional yet unsupported homes that does not exist today in London and South Wales. Last season only five SL clubs had average gates that exceeded those in Halifax and Leigh this week. Yet today the focus remains on the need to continue to have development that rapes our game of money it cannot afford, whilst not defending in its core business.
Other examples are cited in support: The NFL is interested in investing in London. Yes it is, but not at the expense of say Cincinnati. Aussie Rules has clubs outside Melbourne. Yes it does, but in addition to, not in place of its home market. It is a myth is that our game is played in small regional towns that cannot sustain the game. Whilst not forgetting West Cumbria, collectively the M62 corridor is the second largest urbanisation in the whole UK, much like Melbourne is in Australia. It's true that the AFL has a Sydney club, but it wouldn't die without it.
The model is clear. Add to what you have. If it works great, incorporate it. If it doesn't, shelve it.
Let's have a bigger top division rewarding local interest. If in time a London club like Skolars evolves and is worthy of a place, that's wonderful. But let's not kill the goose in trying to artificially make it happen. As for the excuse that there isn't enough quality to sustain more SL clubs, well, look at this World Cup. There's quality everywhere. It just hasn't been invested in!
Edited by Wireagle, 11 November 2013 - 09:10 AM.