Toby Chopra

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  1. Toby Chopra

    Widnes problems

    Yes, seen the statement now. Looks like they've budgeted based on money they were promised which never appeared. They're not the first club to make financial commitments based on an investor promise but nothing concrete. We really are going to need some sort of rule to stop this happening. It's an unnecessary crisis. A club of Widnes size should never be bankrupt, even after relegation.
  2. Toby Chopra

    Widnes problems

    I don't see how this is possible. Doesn't a club relegated from SL have the right to terminate all contracts as necessary? Widnes will still have the highest TV payout and one of the better crowds, so surely if they've cut back player spend as needed, they should be fine.
  3. Yep, just figured out tonight that I could Chomecast it. Awesome. Fair play to the RFL here, watchable quality pictures, professional commentators, and decent quality rugby. And doesn't cost a penny! Along with the weekly Toronto game, it'll be great to see a full season of Championship rugby.
  4. Toby Chopra

    Lions tour 2019 (Merged Threads)

    Why? I mean, you might well be right, but I'm interested in understanding what the biggest problem is. For me it's the likely blowouts in the England games. But from a promotional perspective, at this late stage GB/England going down under to play a bunch of glorified warm ups, likely in the middle of the night UK time, will get precisely zero coverage over here and do nothing to promote the game. Or the 2021 WC. Obviously none of us would start from here. But we are where we are. So with no home union internationals this autumn, let's put on some games in some sensible stadiums, on Saturday afternoons, I think we'll get some press out of it, even if some of the scores are lopsided.
  5. Toby Chopra

    Sky losing interest in Rugby League

    I think that's over simplified. Sky buys the Super Rugby feed as part of the wider SANZAR contract, including Rugby Championship and southern hemisphere England tours. The internationals are why they pay big money, Super Rugby itself gets awful viewing figures but it gets bundled in and is good filler. If it was separated out, and Sky could produce Championship rugby league cheaper than buying the Super rugby feed, it would. I agree on your second point, though. Second tier rights are effectively worthless once you account for production costs, so people should be careful what they wish for. We'll see the truth by 2021.
  6. This would be the obvious endgame - a full breakaway - except... even the biggest Superleague clubs and Elstone himself seem rather cold about the overseas teams. I think they see them as more of a threat than a benefit too. They're happy with the status quo too, as long as they keep near the top of it. IF there was a market for 'Big City' rugby league - and I'm not persuaded there is - then someone's going to have to come in from the outside and blow the existing system out of the water with a *huge amount of cash, like Murdoch threatened to do to union in the early 90s before it professionalised. *(The 'huge amount of cash' needed to take over British Rugby league isn't actually that huge compared to other sports, but would still be a hell of a gamble.)
  7. Seems like the opposite of 'survival of the fittest' to me
  8. Toby Chopra

    RFU v RFL - Strategic Thinking

    Again, I'm sure they could do a better job, but it's just unrealistic to think that better marketing of the second and third tier is going to provide the funds to transform the sport. It would be the only sport in the world where it did. To repeat, I'm not seeking to absolve the RFL for all its sins, but the argument of this thread is that a lack of 'strategic' thinking by the RFL is responsible for the perceived gap between union and league, and I'd argue it really doesn't make that much difference unless you get the Aussies on board. In some ways, if you accept the preferred international route is closed due to uncooperative partners, then focusing on a defensive strategy in the heartlands isn't as stupid as it may look.
  9. Toby Chopra

    RFU v RFL - Strategic Thinking

    As the national governing body, they shouldn't be doing any of those things, that should be in the hands of the Superleague, and indeed it will be going forward. The RFL should be looking after the grassroots and the England team, just like the FA, ECB and RFU do. Except unlike all of those the RFL has no independent income to do it with, so its impact is very limited. Yes they can be ######, but it's a symptom of how the game has developed and where the revenue generating parts are, rather than the cause of the problems. Anyway, the truth is the RFL isn't a governing body in any real sense but a members club for the 30 odd professional clubs, and biggest of those clubs only pay it lip service anyway now. But even if Superleague took over the RFL rather than detaching from it, and installed some top administrators with some funds, the issue would be the same: on the only thing that can move the dial - international rugby - they're fighting with one hand tied behind their back.
  10. Toby Chopra

    RFU v RFL - Strategic Thinking

    The problem isn't that the RFU is much better at strategic thinking than the RFL. Domestically, there's a long list of problems for English union such debt, redundancies, fall off in youth participation, whether to ring-fence the top league. All sounds very familiar. But the big difference is that the RFU is part of a global family of unions which, although they sometimes bust up over the details, all share the end destination: to use international rugby to drive growth in the game. World Cup, Olympics, Six Nations, tours are top of the agenda. Always. The RFL I think realises that international rugby is the way forward, but it doesn't have partner unions that share its vision, the Aussies are reluctant and when interested do their own thing. The Kiwis try, but are broke and can't afford to detach from Australia. Until this changes, I think there's a limit to how much we criticise the RFL for lacking strategic thinking. Sure, they can be pretty poor domestic administrators, but the big scale vision for the sport is out of their hands.
  11. I'm intrigued by this comment. Who has taken anything from the game in recent years? There have been wise investors and stupid. Those that over-promised and under-delivered. Some that have sounded off like prats along the way. And many clubs have hit hard times. But I can't think of a single person who's made a cent out of rugby league - they've all lost money in a game that's chronically broke. So, as much as we'd like to see a queue of investors who we could pick and choose from, we have to take what we can get and short of actual criminality, we have no business turning anyone down who want to have a go at it.
  12. I don't know Liverpool well, but if there isn't an affordable stadium like Lamport or Trailfinders within the city itself, with minimum 5,000 capacity (or potential to add even some temporary stands) then no, it won't fly.
  13. It's rugby. Of the league variety. But mainly a good afternoon/night out at a top class sporting event, enjoyable for all the family, and particularly the younger urban types that congregate in the bigger cities now. That's the market you're after. The history of the game comes later for those that want to get deeper into it. The relationship of fans with new team in a big city is always going to be different to fans of a historic club. But in those historic towns if you say 'fancy going to the rugby?' it means league, so no reason we shouldn't take that stance in cities where we're trying to set up the first and only pro rugby team in. In Cardiff or Bristol would be different, but I actually think they're the last places we should target because the rugby market is already sewn up there.
  14. I presume you're talking about paying for a stadium, because SL running costs aren't that high, the salary cap is only £2m. No one in their right mind (or even Marwan on red wine night) would pay for a brand new stadium up front just to set up a rugby league team. If there's not a decent option to lease, and maybe expand over time, then it ain't ever going to work. Even Wasps got lucky cos of the stadium scandal with SISU in Coventry. I've always said that the only reason Toronto got off the ground was because they got a sweet stadium deal in a downtown stadium, easily accessible to their target demographic. NYRL would have failed stuck out in New Jersey. Stadium is key to all of this.
  15. Yes, a comparable investment to what Hughes has put into London and Argyle will put into Toronto. And neither of those are guaranteed to succeed. A huge gamble. But if you were going to take it, Liverpool does look like just about the best shot. That said its demographic, size and sporting environment is similar to Sheffield and things haven't really taken off there. But Sheffeld hasn't been done with serious money behind it, so I'm still not sure we can draw direct conclusions. Actually, the closet example, if I may mention it, is Wasps going to Coventry, where the vast majority of their fans weren't regular rugby watchers before Wasps came to town. It can be done. But it costs a fortune, and Marwan and friends don't seem to be signalling they're going down that road.