Take out the comparisons and the arguments about what counts and what doesnt, what is an effect of the system and what is a symptom of another action or the wider environment.
Strip it down and look at what we know is the case for both P+R and licensing.
We know that attendances improve as a club rises. I.e top of SL get better than middle, middle get better than lower, lower SL get better than top of championship, top of championship get better than middle who get better than lower etc, etc. there are some exceptions but there always are and again can be attributed to the wider environment or action if people want, so lets put those to one side because largely it is the case.
But we also know that having too many clubs in the league dilutes the quality and brings down the averages as a whole.
We know that the converse also happens, that largely attendances fall as a club falls.
We also know that the longer a club stays at a higher point the 'stickier' those fans become, and similarly the longer a club stays at a lower point the harder it becomes to get people back.
We know that season ticket holders are much 'stickier' as fans, as well as been far more likely to be the consumers of the secondary income streams. Importantly they are also more likely to attend other RL events.
We also know that clubs who invest in marketing and facilities see an uplift, and a longer term uplift in attendances and those secondary benefits.
We also know that clubs who invest in youth development are the ones which succeed more on the field, we also know that youth development is integral to our game in every way, Now there is a chicken and egg argument there but it is a little irrelevant to the point.
From those things, we can decide what we need to improve.
Well we want 'sticky' fans as they are more loyal and spend more with us. We see that our current sticky fans are season ticket holders. So we want season ticket holders.
We can see that market and investing in facilities sees an uplift and long term one in attendances and secondary income streams. So we need investment in marketing and facilities.
We can see that clubs competing at a higher level increases attendances and stickiness of fans as long as that success is repeated at least for the medium (2-5years) term. So we want mobility for clubs moving up. But it is just as important that they are able to stay there.
We can see that the opposite is also true. So we see there is a need for a balance. Because whilst clubs rising is a good thing, clubs falling is an equally (at least) bad thing.
We also need more invested in youth development.
So the question we need to ask ourselves is, which system gives us the best opportunity to do the things we want to do.
If we say that the movement up and down (in terms of attendances) cancel each other out (my personal opinion is that a club being relegated loses more than the club being promoted gains)
then the answer in my opinion is obvious. Licensing gives far more freedom for clubs to invest in marketing, in facilities, in youth development. It makes it far easier for a lower SL club to become a middle one, and far easier for a middle one to become a top one.
I think that the affect the structure we have has on attendances is far outweighed by what we actually do during it. Our growth will not come from licensing or P+R, it wont come from some perfect system no-one has even thought of yet. It will come from the hard work of marketing the clubs, from building the requisite facilities, from bringing through players of the requisite quality, from the game actually building itself up.
The sad fact is that the change in structure is window dressing, the fundamental issues with the game simply arent being addressed. If they are, either system can be a relative success, if they arent neither will.
I think licensing is the better option for allowing us to do what we need to do, others may disagree. But both standpoints are irrelevant until we do actually start doing what we need to do.
So this is what we needed to help freshen the debate - a different view. I wholeheartedly agree with it.
Enjoyed your post Sir.
However the things you say licensing can do, didn't happen. The SL clubs could not find enough money, they did not have big enough potential audiences, they could not find enough quality juniors to have effective academies.
There were big investors at clubs too small to provide the returns, there were no investors at clubs big enough to get some returns.It failed, But that failure doesn't therefore mean a return to P & R is naturally a good idea.
The return to P & R may lose the London academy, it may dismantle a giant of a club in Bradford, it will cut four clubs adrift from the Elite next year mid season and I fear their businesses will not stand yo-yoing up and down outside the smaller elite. Read Padge's analysis.
That's my position and I view the terrible crowds under relegation at the bottom of SL as a danger signal.
No I'd call it major disaster alarm bells.
Some of us need to agree to disagree and drop our exchanges but I would ask you to consider the scenario of a middle eight competition in which if it had taken place this year would have had eight clubs playing off an average of 3.000 fans.
That's not the saviour of Rugby League and it's falling crowds and increasing deficits for me at all.
I don't want to see Bradford decline further in the CC or London close their academy because they cannot afford it. I don't want to see a third City club Wakefield become isolated at the bottom of next years Superleague with crowds even less than they have now. And that's the trend Padge records year after year - poor league position poor crowds, and Wakefield are famous for some awful SL crowds in the past Wakefield.v.Salford 2,475.
I don't want to see Hull & HKR sucked into late season rejection from SL. In 1996 when superleague started did you know neither Hull club was in Superleague at the start and only 4,700 people watched the clubs in Hull which was an unmitigated disaster and I don't want this "new structure" which it's not, just an old idea in new clothes) to drag them down either.
Yes it could be the fans will get excited and crowds will rise significantly enough to make this worthwhile but I haven't had a shred of factual or logical evidence for this, only wishful thinking which needs an absolute sea change in fans attitudes to work.
If we are to find a way forward I'm with Padge on the right clubs sailing the flagship, I'm with Caplan on developing the bigger "City" clubs and clubs where we have resourceful structures.
I'n not with sailing an 8 club Superleague and throwing four guest clubs overboard a year to sink or swim.
In the end what could we get? A small rump superleague with several clubs unable to get their crowds to budge anywhere. It's not just the crowd drops of epic proportions (London Wakey and Bulls once attracted 25,000 now it's under half that) I fear Superleague clubs who can't budge their fanbase like Fartown who despite tens of £Millions have what - a 5,000 core of fans? Same at Widnes, same at Salford.
I fear that Fev are being compromised (read Lizzy's post) and that too much is expected of Craiq's Leigh and that their success at CC level may not translate to "freshening" the SL competition. The future of RL isn't small towns or mega rich men who somehow cannot understand the salary cap.
Like Padge and many other posters on here who are maybe wiser than me and don't keep sticking their head out of the trenches, I do value looking at past events, facts and figures. After all the main body of fans we need to get back into stadiums ARE rooted in the past themselves. The attitudes they have they will still have. I can't see them flocking back with an "oh goody this looks exciting". I'm a fan and as I said I loved the four up four down Hunslet used to ride into the elite on (and ride straight back down) I loved the championship play off for an SL place, one day we were at the door of SL, the next we find we don't have the admission money.
Those fans were the ones who could put 20,000 into Odsal or 5,000 into Broncos, they were the ones who reacted to the Humberside clubs not being in the elite by staying at home in their thousands and thousands. They were the ones that could give Salford a 10,000 goodbye at the Willows but weren't immediately falling for the new dawn at Barton. RL fans aren't daft and can spot a re-package.
One thing I'm getting from this debate is that sport is an emotional thing and that hard facts and figures, the Maths and History lessons aren't always welcome. Sport is more a dream than an academic study. It may be none of this matters as there'll always be Rugby League. I watched in when top crowds were 5,000 and we never got 10K for any league match or anywhere near.
But I fear the tens of thousands expected to the mid 8 party next year may not use their invites - we shall see.