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The Parksider

The SKY contract for RL - good or bad?

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But what I don't get is why take the gambles on players etc when there is no relegation ...

...agree. Its the competitive spirit, the will and desire to do better, to win. No club really wants to, or believes it will be, the perpetually loser. So if clubs take gambles on players, finances etc when there is no need as there is no automatic single-season results based P and R, imagine the mess if there were!

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I know, clubs would be going bust or nearly bust every season.

True enough. between two and four every season if it were two up two down, compared with how many since licencing, when the P and R criteria were expanded?

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Players hadn't started to cross codes because the deal had not been completed, the cash wasn't in the bank. Not many SA players switched previously because they were already being nicely looked after. A cashed up RL could beat what SA could offer. SA after the formation of SANZAR and the TV could up their under the counter offers to their top players, that meant that the threat from Packer was nulled. However that still left Oz and NZ vulnerable to SL raids on their talent. Murdoch's SL was the real threat.

No matter how you look at it, the driver was the SL threat. Nothing else moved until Murdoch made his move.

Not remotely true, the "move" came when Pienaar was persuaded by the SARU to stop promoting WRC and get the Springboks back in the IRB camp. In order to achieve this, they needed to offer them something.

They had no need to offer them money to defuse a SL threat that did not exist at that time and would not have applied to South Africa in any case.

And "the move" required the blessing of the IRB whose motives were different from SARU. The case for professionalism needed to be compelling and a theoretical threat to Australia and New Zealand only, was hardly sufficient reason to overturn one hundred years of tradition.

A threat that really existed and applied to all members, on the other hand.....

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People who think it is easy to run a sports club really are clueless. Many people involved are very rich because they understand business and have been very successful.

Sport is quite different, it is incredibly simplistic to suggest that it is easy to not gamble on players etc.

The fact is that RL is quite reserved when it comes to wages. Even with increased central funding, and increases to the rival code funding we have held firm with our Salary Cap limit. If we were out there paying £5m in wages with an income of £4m then fair enough criticise away, but that isn't happening.

People complain about the clubs trying to save funds with the youth re-structure, people moan when we lose players to Union - we can't have it both ways!

A business plan for a sport clubs must be incredibly tough (as evidenced by the number of clubs who struggle - they can't ALL be run by feckwits!) - as some of the key income streams are incredibly volatile, like sponsorship, gate receipts, merchandise sales etc. then little income is guaranteed.

A few bad results could easily see crowds dip by 500 adults a match at a club like Warrington who average 11k crowds. 500 x £20 x 10 matches gives you a gap of £100k in your plan straight away. RL clubs are quite small, we have seen clubs get into real trouble being just a few hundred thousand in debt.

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Guardian April 1995

*

Bath chairman Richard Mawditt and Leicester's director of rugby Tony Russ. Last night Mawditt said: "We have to make sure we can compete with the rugby league people. Rugby union has got to react. The development of this new summer Super League has taken us all by surprise."

Rugby union's International Board has been considering the issue of amateurism for more than a year and is not due to rule on it until August, but for Australia and New Zealand, the two unions which stand to lose most from rugby league's plans, that is too late.

"All unions up to this stage have been very keen to make sure the game remains one which is not pay for play," said Greg Thomas, the Australian union's media and communications manager. "Whether that remains the position is something which will have to be discussed."

*

Reports from Australia said yesterday that the ARFU could spend pounds 2.5 million on player contracts to keep them away from Murdoch's grasp.

The New Zealand RFU chairman Rob Fisher believes the end of amateurism is nigh. "Murdoch's Super League hastens the move towards professionalism in union."

Terry Doyle, the Queensland RU's chief executive, said: "Let's be honest about it: union is verging on the professional now. We need to have a counter-strategy in place before the World Cup starts next month."

*

Australian urgency is driven by the formation of rugby league's Super League, to which rugby union administrators in the northern hemisphere have responded disdainfully. Yet as things stand, as many as a dozen Wallabies could sign for Super League after the conclusion of the rugby union World Cup in June.

The New South Wales and Queensland Rugby Unions have passed resolutions recognising that "rugby union is no longer an amateur sport". Ian Ferrier, the NSWRU chairman, said : "Rugby worldwide has been remunerating players and coaches in various ways for a very long time. The union believes rugby in all parts of the world needs to address this complex issue of remu neration of players and coaches.

"In light of the Super League developments of recent weeks and their impact on the game of rugby, the NSWRU board discussed the whole question of amateurism in rugby and considered the impact of Super League on our game. It was the view of the board that it was obvious to even the most casual of observers that rugby was no longer amateur. Amateurism as a concept is outmoded and should be dispensed with in the modern game."

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When the Aussies are whinging about their Au$5 mill salary cap... What's the point in this thread.

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The fact is that RL is quite reserved when it comes to wages.

Indeed, read in the week that the Bradford City football club have a wage bill of £1.2 million on a sub 10k average gate and from memory I think TV money is "only" about £650k a season at League 2 level. So I'm sure in League 2 were the vast majority of clubs pull in average crowds less then half of Bradfords that top flight professional Rugby League starts to look like very good value for money!

Its not easy, but clubs can run at a profit, I'm sure if Lindsey/Whelan were still at the helm at Wigan they'd be running at a loss where as Leneghan seems to be savy enough to run the place at a decent profit.

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Jeez it's sustained one for 17 years no sign of it packing up..

Bradford, Salford, Crusaders, Wakefield, Paris, Castleford, Gateshead, maybe Hull KR. Jeez how many more cases do you need?

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I don't get this debate at all. How anyone can question if £250m investment is a bad thing is beyond me.

But there's the nub - the game has never treated it as an investment and has largely squandered it all.

Instead of Sky, how about looking at how the clubs managed to throw away the vast majority of the money on inflated wages and didn't actually get much of a return on the money ? A club in SL since its inception would have pocketed more than £20m to date - imagine how much better shape they'd all be in if just a quarter of that had been invested in infrastructure and development systems (both commercial and player).

So, it's not about if Sky were good for the game it's more about whether clubs used the opportunity wisely. I'm afraid the answer to that is a resounding no, apart from a very few clubs who have relatively recently grasped the concept and benefit of investing the money for future returns and playing the long game.

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I know, clubs would be going bust or nearly bust every season.

As opposed to the current highly successful situation.

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see post #204

As you know very well, without Sky there would now be no SL clubs to go out of existence..and in my opinion, no Championship clubs either. With the absence of an elite competition to inspire young players, then the game would have faded into oblivion in the SEVENTEEN years since 1995. Union would have completely wiped the floor with us and there is the game they'd be playing now in your old school.

Remind me again who from SuperLeage has gone out of existence? Bradford, Salford, Crusaders, Wakefield, Paris, Castleford, Gateshead, maybe Hull KR Oops , there is three in 17 years, the rest is down to your wishful thinking.

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Bradford, Salford, Crusaders, Wakefield, Paris, Castleford, Gateshead, maybe Hull KR. Jeez how many more cases do you need?

Please engage with the point.

As longs as SKY provide £17,000,000 a year to clubs we can run a professional league.

It needs to be a league that is run collectively, for the good of all and runs to some sensible principles.

Whilst your "evidence" shows that clubs muck up, it doesn't change the point that we can run a pro league on SKY money if it is properly managed.

Clubs have financially collapsed and closed at semi pro level as well - what should we do go amateur?

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1. I don't get this debate at all. How anyone can question if £250m investment is a bad thing is beyond me.

2. So, it's not about if Sky were good for the game it's more about whether clubs used the opportunity wisely. I'm afraid the answer to that is a resounding no, apart from a very few clubs who have relatively recently grasped the concept and benefit of investing the money for future returns and playing the long game.

1. But people do have the right to hold opinions differing to yours and do. Superleague is....

a. killing championship clubs

b. hasn't attracted any new fans to the game

c. causes clubs to go bust

d. has caused the GB/England team to be uncompetitive and international attendances to fall

e. has caused the elite end of our game to be a ghetto

and other opinions reflecting it's not good for the game. Like you I could not believe these ideas so I thought we'd try to examine them in a thread. So far the thread has not had anyone coming on to justify these claims.

2. I do not know how far clubs could (contractually) use the money for things other than wages, if they could have done they would have had to collectively agree a drop in salary cap to accommodate this?

No club can take competetiveness for granted or they end up like Salford and London with low crowds? Where's the return then?

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Guardian April 1995

*

Bath chairman Richard Mawditt and Leicester's director of rugby Tony Russ. Last night Mawditt said: "We have to make sure we can compete with the rugby league people. Rugby union has got to react. The development of this new summer Super League has taken us all by surprise."

Rugby union's International Board has been considering the issue of amateurism for more than a year and is not due to rule on it until August, but for Australia and New Zealand, the two unions which stand to lose most from rugby league's plans, that is too late.

"All unions up to this stage have been very keen to make sure the game remains one which is not pay for play," said Greg Thomas, the Australian union's media and communications manager. "Whether that remains the position is something which will have to be discussed."

*

Reports from Australia said yesterday that the ARFU could spend pounds 2.5 million on player contracts to keep them away from Murdoch's grasp.

The New Zealand RFU chairman Rob Fisher believes the end of amateurism is nigh. "Murdoch's Super League hastens the move towards professionalism in union."

Terry Doyle, the Queensland RU's chief executive, said: "Let's be honest about it: union is verging on the professional now. We need to have a counter-strategy in place before the World Cup starts next month."

*

Australian urgency is driven by the formation of rugby league's Super League, to which rugby union administrators in the northern hemisphere have responded disdainfully. Yet as things stand, as many as a dozen Wallabies could sign for Super League after the conclusion of the rugby union World Cup in June.

The New South Wales and Queensland Rugby Unions have passed resolutions recognising that "rugby union is no longer an amateur sport". Ian Ferrier, the NSWRU chairman, said : "Rugby worldwide has been remunerating players and coaches in various ways for a very long time. The union believes rugby in all parts of the world needs to address this complex issue of remu neration of players and coaches.

"In light of the Super League developments of recent weeks and their impact on the game of rugby, the NSWRU board discussed the whole question of amateurism in rugby and considered the impact of Super League on our game. It was the view of the board that it was obvious to even the most casual of observers that rugby was no longer amateur. Amateurism as a concept is outmoded and should be dispensed with in the modern game."

Again you are confusing individuals and individual unions with the IRB.

The RFU voted against professionalism so picking out two chairman as saying that rugby union needed to respond to the SL is meaningless. That may have been their opinion but the RFU wasn't moved. It doesn't explain the IRB's change of heart because we know that the RFU maintained their opinion.

Again the southern hemisphere unions cited SL but there is no date on their comments. The IRB vote was taken months later by which time the SL threat had turned out not to exist. The WRC similarly may not have existed when these comments were made so there was no need to mention them. There is no reason to think that the SRU, IRFU, WRU etc would have suddenly changed their opposition to professionalism just because the Aussies and Kiwis were worried about losing a few players. The Welsh had lost hundreds and nobody had cared.

You seem to see the different unions as a monolith of amateurism, in fact there had always been a north vs south split on the issue. England was strongly against and the Celts plus Italy benefitted from the shamateur system as they could afford boot money payments but couldn't afford a pro league (and still can't), on the other side the SANZAR nations wanted professionalism. The NSWRU believed in professionalism long before 1995, it's not like their opinion changed. What changed is that the northern unions (bar England) saw the threat from the WRC.

You have no explanation for why South Africa was the first to sign up players with paid contracts when they weren't worried about SL (a lack of quotes on your part). No smoking gun.

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A few bad results could easily see crowds dip

Very simple and very true.

In theory just cut your player spend and balance the books.

However results dip and crowds dip with them.

So just cut and cut and eventually you have Halifax 2003.

1. No points

2. Crowds lower than London's (YES THAT LOW)

3. No money

This is why Bradford could not just cut and cut - they knew what happened next door.....

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Very simple and very true.

In theory just cut your player spend and balance the books.

However results dip and crowds dip with them.

So just cut and cut and eventually you have Halifax 2003.

1. No points

2. Crowds lower than London's (YES THAT LOW)

3. No money

This is why Bradford could not just cut and cut - they knew what happened next door.....

The other issue is that this can happen in-season when contracts have been agreed.

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Please engage with the point.

As longs as SKY provide £17,000,000 a year to clubs we can run a professional league.

It needs to be a league that is run collectively, for the good of all and runs to some sensible principles.

Whilst your "evidence" shows that clubs muck up, it doesn't change the point that we can run a pro league on SKY money if it is properly managed.

Clubs have financially collapsed and closed at semi pro level as well - what should we do go amateur?

If that is so then it is high time that they did it and there would be no need to question whether full time professional clubs are sustainable. To date they havn't. If going into crisis mode and desperately looking for bailout solutions such as occurred at Bradford and Wakefield and are currently being pursued at Salford and Hull KR and going completely belly up as at Paris, Gateshead and Crusaders are the template for a successfully managed, solvent SL then that's definitely different to my idea of how to run a stable, self sustaining organisation.

If your asserion that the league can be successfuly run and function of the present Sky cash, is correct then there is no dispute. I would prefer that full time professionalism could be maintained. At present there is no sign that the SL is anything near to being sustainable. Are all these recurrent crises figments of everybody's imagination?

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Are all these recurrent crises figments of everybody's imagination?

No. Nor are they an epidemic. Nor are they insoluble. But the situation is far far better than had Sky not come along. Sure, I'd like to see a few more Glasers, Abramoviches, Crowes in our game but in the meantime.....

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Very simple and very true.

In theory just cut your player spend and balance the books.

However results dip and crowds dip with them.

So just cut and cut and eventually you have Halifax 2003.

1. No points

2. Crowds lower than London's (YES THAT LOW)

3. No money

This is why Bradford could not just cut and cut - they knew what happened next door.....

Do you think that the strategy employed by Halifax back then would have worked today.? They would have cut their costs, righted the financial ship and been in a position to regroup and improve but they got relegated. Today they would not.

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No. Nor are they an epidemic. Nor are they insoluble. But the situation is far far better than had Sky not come along. Sure, I'd like to see a few more Glasers, Abramoviches, Crowes in our game but in the meantime.....

You are talking to the wrong poster. I have not ever said that we should not have taken the Sky money.Just the opposite. I think we should ask them for more. I didn't say the 50% of the league who have had serious financial problems coulddn't sort out their companies either. Parksider agues that they can. I have said that at present the way half the clubs are operating, SL cannot sustain full time professionalism. IF it can then the league as a whole and the clubs as seperate entities need to get on with it, cut their costs to what they can afford and prove me wrong.

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Do you think that the strategy employed by Halifax back then would have worked today.? They would have cut their costs, righted the financial ship and been in a position to regroup and improve but they got relegated. Today they would not.

You have no place in an elite doing that sort of thing.

It's unfair to the paying customers of Fax and their opponents

How does a club "re-group" what does this mean?

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Again you are confusing individuals and individual unions with the IRB.

The RFU voted against professionalism so picking out two chairman as saying that rugby union needed to respond to the SL is meaningless. That may have been their opinion but the RFU wasn't moved. It doesn't explain the IRB's change of heart because we know that the RFU maintained their opinion.

Again the southern hemisphere unions cited SL but there is no date on their comments. The IRB vote was taken months later by which time the SL threat had turned out not to exist. The WRC similarly may not have existed when these comments were made so there was no need to mention them. There is no reason to think that the SRU, IRFU, WRU etc would have suddenly changed their opposition to professionalism just because the Aussies and Kiwis were worried about losing a few players. The Welsh had lost hundreds and nobody had cared.

You seem to see the different unions as a monolith of amateurism, in fact there had always been a north vs south split on the issue. England was strongly against and the Celts plus Italy benefitted from the shamateur system as they could afford boot money payments but couldn't afford a pro league (and still can't), on the other side the SANZAR nations wanted professionalism. The NSWRU believed in professionalism long before 1995, it's not like their opinion changed. What changed is that the northern unions (bar England) saw the threat from the WRC.

You have no explanation for why South Africa was the first to sign up players with paid contracts when they weren't worried about SL (a lack of quotes on your part). No smoking gun.

I think the Chairman of NZ rugby union, QRU Cheif Exec and the NSWRU Chairman are a bit above being a couple of club Chairman.

When the SL cat was out of the bag, the Aussies jumped to declare themselves pro, if that isn't responding then I don't know what is. SA didn't need to respond because they effectively signd up all the springboks on pro contracts earlier when Packer was sniffing around, the money from their current Murdoch deal meant they could easily do it, again a reaction to what was happening.

It didn't matter how the RFU voted in the least, they were in no position to either stop the game going pro or be party to another split. They knew they had lost.

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see post #204

As you know very well, without Sky there would now be no SL clubs to go out of existence..and in my opinion, no Championship clubs either. With the absence of an elite competition to inspire young players, then the game would have faded into oblivion in the SEVENTEEN years since 1995. Union would have completely wiped the floor with us and there is the game they'd be playing now in your old school.

Remind me again who from SuperLeage has gone out of existence? Bradford, Salford, Crusaders, Wakefield, Paris, Castleford, Gateshead, maybe Hull KR Oops , there is three in 17 years, the rest is down to your wishful thinking.

Firstly, as with the other posts, I never, ever said that we should have refused Sky's money. There would have been some kind of top division to inspire players even without Sky money, but I am not advocating that. Paupers don't look at winning the lottery and refuse the money.

I think the Championships have benefitted very little from the Sky money and appear to have cut their cloth to the realities of their financial situation, which is more than can be said of the so very ELITE clubs.

Just for your information my school never ever left playing RU, more's the pity.

Finally, play all the silly typing games you want and put lines through things but you need to read the posts before you jump into false answers. I never said ANY SL clubs had gone out of existence although some have. What I said was those listed clubs were incapable of sustaining full time professionalism and their various bankruptcies, mergers, financial crises and indeed extinctions prove that to be so. So it's 8 clubs who have been unable to hack full time professionalism in 17 years and if you throw in the earlier failures of Oldham, Halifax and Workington it's 11. So if you had read what I had written and not jumped to conclusions you would not have been accusing me of wishful thinking, but then again......

Several posters have speculated that it is bad management that resulted in these failures, that the Sky money is enough and that the SL ship can be righted and sail away on calm serene seas. I am not in a position to deny that that is true and I hope it is but, as of this moment it is not. The SL and it's clubs need to take the actions to prove they can sustain full time professionalism before I will be convinced.

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You wrote, "we know Sky money cannot sustain a fully pro competition,"

The Parksider replied, " Jeez it's sustained one for 17 years no sign of it packing up.."

You responded, "Bradford, Salford, Crusaders, Wakefield, Paris, Castleford, Gateshead, maybe Hull KR. Jeez how many more cases do you need?

I corrected you," Bradford, Salford, Crusaders, Wakefield, Paris, Castleford, Gateshead, maybe Hull KR "

Finally, you wrote, t's clubs need to take the actions to prove they can sustain full time professionalism before I will be convinced.

Neither you nor I need to be convinced. Its the paying fans, either in the crowd or on TV that need convincing. You know what? I think they are convinced. Attendances up, viewers up, game up!

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