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The Parksider

The SKY contract for RL - good or bad?

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So would football, apart from the top 6.

I am afriad I don't see the relevence.

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The BBC showed RL for many decades and mostly treated it as a joke event. Why was there a petition in 1976 against the BBC and their treatment of the game (and Eddie Waring) if it was all as great as some people are making out? Yes many people were aware of RL but only in the same way they were aware of Kendo Nagasaki or Mick McManuss...almost a novelty thing.

And I'll ask again, how much money were the BBC offering and how many live league games per week?

Yes they did patronise us as Northern Oiks etc BUT the game spoke for itself and got into millions of living rooms from John O Groats to Lands End and all stops in between. Everybody knew it was a real, genuine sport, not like the fixed and futile wrestling. It was the exposure of the sport to millions which was of value.

What were the BBC offering.? I don't know. In fact that post was the first time I knew they were competing with the Sky offer

Jumping to the present though, if we could get Sky to agree to both their coverage and some terrestrial prime time coverage it would be great for the game..

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Everyone knew it was a sport but they knew wrestling was too. And not many people regarded that as anything other than a bit of mucking about.

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And I'll ask again, how much money were the BBC offering and how many live league games per week?

and how many watched..and how many did not go to televised games because it was free on TV.

The naysayers on here seem to me to be unable to come to terms with the changes that have happened in the last 30 years...changes to living patterns and places, working patterns and places, competition for leisure time and money, competition from other sports, new technologies. People no longer live in huddled roews of terraced houses with tin baths and outside lavvies. No longer do we hear the mill hoter nor do we hear the merry banter of mill workers and the sound of their clogs as they skip to work for the early shift at the Acme mill. There never was a golden age for the game. It has always lived a hand to mouth existence, and even during Wigan's dominance in the 1990s, it was still a game run by amateurs in every sense of the word. No one really knows what would have happened had Sky not come along when it did but to imagine that the game would have thrived and survived is self deception of the highest order. Sure, things could be better but in this age of central heating I know of no one advocating sending chidren up chimneys

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Keighley' the game spoke for itself and got into millions of living rooms from John O Groas End and all stops in between. Everybody knew it was a real, genuine sport, not like the fixed and futile wrestling. It was the exposure of the sport to millions which was of value.

what value? Even if it were true, no one put any money into the game, not least the BBC.If it were so good back then why did the BBC abandon the floodlight trophy? Why did no one ever go to the games.

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and how many watched..and how many did not go to televised games because it was free on TV.

The naysayers on here seem to me to be unable to come to terms with the changes that have happened in the last 30 years...changes to living patterns and places, working patterns and places, competition for leisure time and money, competition from other sports, new technologies. People no longer live in huddled roews of terraced houses with tin baths and outside lavvies. No longer do we hear the mill hoter nor do we hear the merry banter of mill workers and the sound of their clogs as they skip to work for the early shift at the Acme mill. There never was a golden age for the game. It has always lived a hand to mouth existence, and even during Wigan's dominance in the 1990s, it was still a game run by amateurs in every sense of the word. No one really knows what would have happened had Sky not come along when it did but to imagine that the game would have thrived and survived is self deception of the highest order. Sure, things could be better but in this age of central heating I know of no one advocating sending chidren up chimneys

And how many don't either watch or go to games because it';s not on terestrial TV and so they don't watch it and its not on terrestrial TV so they don't even know we exist to even think about going to a game.

I think Sky's money has been a great fillip to the game and I'm glad it is available but it's not without fault.Tthere are some negatives and a narrowing of our TV exposure is one of them.

With regards to your central heating analogy. The ring fencing and removal of an upward progression curve for CC clubs is exactly that. The RFL and SL have central heating, which they got from a grant, and they want it for themselves and they are advocating the CC teams keep spending money on the chimney sweep with no grants being made available to them to upograde to the modern age. In fact they are harking back to the tin bath era and the popular attitude of the time of " I'm alright Jack".

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I guess with the potential of another competitor in the new BT sports channel and the fact that club RU will be shown on that platform and no longer on Sky (as far as i'm aware) might give the RFL a bit more leverage if they did enter into negotiations on the next TV contract, as much as RL doesn't represent one of Sky's key sports it does get good viewing figures and fills quite a few slots, i'm sure Sky might be more inclined to discuss some improvements (ie sharing games with a terrestrial broadcaster) if they thought they might lose club rugby from both codes, that is of course if platforms such as ESPN and the new BT sports channel would be interested in Rugby League.

that being said if the game did get games on terrestrial TV i genuinely believe there are only a handful of clubs in the game who would be able to exploit this increase in exposure properly with increased advertising streams.

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I guess with the potential of another competitor in the new BT sports channel and the fact that club RU will be shown on that platform and no longer on Sky (as far as i'm aware) might give the RFL a bit more leverage if they did enter into negotiations on the next TV contract, as much as RL doesn't represent one of Sky's key sports it does get good viewing figures and fills quite a few slots, i'm sure Sky might be more inclined to discuss some improvements (ie sharing games with a terrestrial broadcaster) if they thought they might lose club rugby from both codes, that is of course if platforms such as ESPN and the new BT sports channel would be interested in Rugby League.

that being said if the game did get games on terrestrial TV i genuinely believe there are only a handful of clubs in the game who would be able to exploit this increase in exposure properly with increased advertising streams.

I was thinking more of the commentators throwing in free promotions for International Games, World Cups, CC1 expansion,, amateur teams being found all over the country etc and hoping the quality of the game they were watching wouild encourage more people to get involved in the supporting the game. As we are now, I don't think we get near enough exposure to encourage any such increase in supporters.

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A significant number of people have argued on here the SKY contract we signed to get at TV money has been bad for the game and has had many detrimental effects.

There's arguments that it hasn't really boosted crowds, that it has destroyed the challenge cup, that it is killing championship clubs, that it has brought down the quality of the GB/England international side and ruined international attendances.

AFAIK we had a choice.

1. To take the SKY money in return for creating a small professional elite league.

2. Take well under a quarter of the sum offered by SKY from the BBC and have more control of what we do with our game but remain semi pro.

Where do you think our game would be today if we had remained semi professional??

I don't think the argument is about the Sky money, more to do with the way it's being distributed, if the Sky money was given under a criteria that only allows the championship clubs chicken feed then I'd go with the second option (unless the championship clubs are allowed to negotiate their own deals with other TV companies)

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Keighley' the game spoke for itself and got into millions of living rooms from John O Groas End and all stops in between. Everybody knew it was a real, genuine sport, not like the fixed and futile wrestling. It was the exposure of the sport to millions which was of value.

what value? Even if it were true, no one put any money into the game, not least the BBC.If it were so good back then why did the BBC abandon the floodlight trophy? Why did no one ever go to the games.

You can't put a value of public exposure to the game. Why do you think people come on here and bemoan the lack of press coverage or the BBC listing out results ot their failure to broadcast the SL highlights nationwide at a decent hour ?. I don't know but I could speculate that the reason we got 73,000 to a WC cup final at Wembley back inbt the day and the reason we struggled to get 40,000 to the same venue for the last four nations against the same opposition, Australia, and a double header to boot, is because no one outside the North or watching Sky even knew the 4 nations was on whereas the WC final was on the BBC and we still had a public prescence due to their televising of the game nationswide for many years.

I think the BBC abandoned the floodlight trophy due to budget cuts as usual. I do remember a Hull V Hull KR game in that competition getting a huge attendance to the Boulevard on a Tuesday night plus nationwide TV viewership. I think I remember Leigh getting over 7,000 for a final at Hilton Park. Last season they got 4,000 for a game against Leeds in the later Cup rounds. i don't think the attedndances were that bad but I must admit I am writing from memory here and sometimes I remember Keighley beating Wigan 50 to 0 at Wembley so it's not all that reliable.

I know money was tight but the BBC did put money into the game and so did John Player in the knowledge they would get advertising all over the UK as a result of the BBC broadcasts. Contrast the difficulty finding a sponsor today when the advertisers know they will only be broadcast to 200,000 homes. Sky money is great but a combination of terrestrial and Sky would be better.

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According to the Rugby League Project website the last final in 1979/80 between Hull and HullKR had an attendance of 18,500

That will have brought some decent money in. We'd be shouting that attendance from the rooftops now.

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Several games between FC and Rovers, in recent years have had much bigger crowds than 18K.

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I'd guess though, that the 18,500 was the capacity of the Boulevard at the time?

The derby v Hull KR in the league in April 1981 also had an attendance of 18,500

And it was a mickey mouse competition according to some

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Sigh. :( It is clear to me at least that the game would have been dead. Despite the intense commitment of people like Marauder, schools one by one would have moved over to union.

Super League attendances totalled 1,743,040 in 2012 (not including Magic Weekend), with only four clubs pulling in less than 100,000 in total (Castleford, London, Salford and Widnes), and Wigan totalling more than 200,000.

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The simple fact is that the amount of money available from the Sky contract(s) enabled the game to fund a full-time elite competition for the first time in the sports history. Without that money our best players would have been snapped up by the cashed-up Australian game and by the newly professionalised Union game.

For those who yearn for the good old days of part-time rugby there is still the Championship. Why not try and interest the BBC in televising those games?

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To understand if the Sky contract did anything for the game you need to know what was going on prior to it. I have listed below some of the events from the 5 years previous to the SL offer.

January 1990

RFL sign deal with BSB for live Sunday game at 6:30 on a Sunday evening.

February 1990

Wigan announce record £280,000 profit.

March 1990

St.Helens home fixture v Warrington abandoned after 3 minutes after part of roof blows off stand and lands on the pitch

April 1990

BSB announce first ever live coverage of a tour to NZ

Halifax players threaten strike action over unpaid wages, Fax sell Neil James to Leeds for £20k to pay outstanding wages to players.

Barrow list 10 players

Halifax hit with £70,000 tax demand from inland revenue and face winding up order.

June 1990

Halifax hit money troubles and are being adminitered by accountants Price Waterhouse

August 1990

Its revealed that Halifax owe creditors £760,000, Price Waterhouse have trouble off-loading Fax to new buyer because players are in dispute over reduced contracts.

Eventuall resolved and new board take-over.

RFL sign a£1.5m 3 year SatelliteTV deal with British Aerospace, 90 games per season are to be shown in pubs and clubs only, 30 games to be live on Sundays at

1:00PM

September 1990

Runcorn Highfield apply to RFL to be allowed to move to St.Helens Town FC, the move is approved.

Sheffield Eagles move to Don Valley Stadium

October 1990

Runcorn coach Dave Chisnall quits after losing all his 38 games in charge.

November 1990

Second diision clubs hold a crisis meeting to discuss the contract system

December 1990

Leigh start listing players as they hit a financial crisis.

Scarborough anonce intention to apply for membership of the RFL

January 1991

Scarborough admitted as a member club of the RFL by getting the exact minimum votes required.

Arbittration ruling forces the RFL to accept that players from EEC countries are exempt from quotas

Mick Dean of Leigh threatens to sue the club for nonfullfilment of contract.

Rugby League Council recommend acceptance of The Hetherington plan for 3 division of 14, 8 and 14.

April 1991

Leigh enter administration

Wigan Win Challenge Cup for 4th season in a row

May 1991

Runcorn Highfield seek approval for name change to Highfield RLFC

Sheffield Eagles sign their first local recruit, Jason Davidson

June 1991

Doncaster list entire playing rosta of 36 players

Leigh are running out of time for a buyer to step and save the club, fans launch a petition asking for the local council to save the club.

Swinton offer Leigh the option of a ground share at Sation road, they turn it down.

RFL project £17m of sponsorship and TV deals over next five years.

August 1991

Tony Cotteral heads a syndicate that saves Leigh at the last minute.

Wakefield escape threat of closure with fomation of its first ever board of directors.

December 1991

Swinton a bid to resolve cash crisis sever contracts of three Australian imports one of which is also coach.

May 1992

New club Scarborough in financial crisis

RFL agree £3m+ four year deal with BSkyB, deal includes Friday night games from League and Premiership. They also sign a 4 year £2.5m deal withe BBC for the

challenge cup and regal trophy.

Vote on return to two divisions defeated.

Swinton sell Station Road and move to Bury

June 1992

Chorley Borough move to Horwich

Relealed that Scarborough are in trubl with £113,000 of debt they can't pay.

August 1992

Sarborough fold still owing £60,000 to creditors

Two French teams receive invit to play in Regal Trophy, XIII Catalan and Carcassonne

September 1992

Blackpool Gladiators move to Blackpool Mechincs FC

October 1992

Blackpool chairman Alan Sherrat puts the club up for sale at £50k

November 1992

Leigh get High Court reprieve following threat of eviction from Hilton Park.

Swinto coach Tony Barrow accepts pay cut to ease financial worries at the club.

December 1992

RFL propse two divisions of 16 with the three bottom clubs demoted to the Aligance League.

Hull KR players refuse to turn out for a game against Leigh in a pay dispute talks take a week to settle the dispute.

January 1993

Swinton saved from liquidation by a consotium headed by former chairman Malcolm White.

February 1993

Leigh fail in a bid to buy back Hilton Park for £300k

March 1993

League appoint a 3 man study group to investigate switching to summer rugby.

Wigans balance sheet shows loss of £300k on a turnover of £3m (includes £440k paid for Offiah)

June 1993

Leigh are offered a reprieve over their ground problems when they are allowed to stay for 12 months.

Hull FC put 7 players on the transfer list and coach Royce Simmons runs 5 marathons to raise money tp pay for Aussie imports.

Warrington list 13 players for a total of £340k when they refuse lower contract payments

Blackpool, Nottingham and Chorley join new national conference league.

London Crusaders move from Crystal Palace to Copthall Sports Stadium, Barnet.

July 1993

Jonothan Davies gets free transfer to Warrington, thus easing financial pressures at Widnes.

August 1993

Halifax list 7 players for a total of £170,000

November 1993

London Crusaders impose 20% pay cut to ease financial problems.

December 1993

The RFL offer help to London in fing additional or replacement directors.

January1994

Bradford have a clear out, Hobbs and Noble given free transfers, McGowan and Cordle listed at£40k an £15k.

Bramley announce plans to leave McLaren Field and move in with Northern Premier League soccer club Farsley Celtic.

Plans for 1995 Centenary World Cup are threatened by RFU making noises about moving the union World Cup for that year from S.A. to England.

March 1994

Wigan's wage bill tops £2m a year mark.

Huddersfield in administration, administrator says all British players are available and is open to offers.

May 1994

Receivers at Huddersfield sack coach Murphy.

June 1994

Oldham sell Watersheddings for £1.25m to pay-off debts.

Bramley decide to stay at McLaren Field for 12 months.

Widnes look into selling groound to council.

Hunslet look to playing games at McLaren Field instead of Elland Road.

U.S. cable TV company Prime Television pay £1.3m for rights to the centenary World Cup.

July 1994

Government proposals on tabacco advertising threaten lucrative sponsorship deals.

Leigh enter administration.

August 1994

The RFL presents a crisis document Framing the Future, it includes proposals to merge clubs and the setting up of a Premier League.

Clubs give the RFL the nod to formulate plans for a Premier League.

Huddersfield celebrate the opening of the McAlpine Stadium by beating Barrow.

September 1994

The RFL propose a 16 club Premier League.

October 1994

Widnes in more talks with council about sale of ground.

November 1994

Hunslet list 7 players.

December 1994

Leigh appoint their 19th coach in twenty years, Ian Lucas

Doncaster enter administration with debts of £1.4m

February 1995

Salary cap introduced 50% of income can be spent on players with a reduction to 40% in 2 years

March 1995

Leigh secure future at Hilton Park by entering ground share deal with non-League soccer club Horwich RMI

Sheffield Eagles pull out of a proposed merger with Doncaster following a "breach of confidentialty", Sheffield then set to take-over Doncaster in a deal with

administrators, deal falls through after RFL declare Doncaster players as free agents.

Leigh buy club back from administrators.

Take-over bid for Bradford Northern

Doncaster bought from administrators by owners of Tattersfield ground.

Ken Arthurson, head of Australian RL, asks the RFL to reconsider summer rugby proposals as it threatens the international tour cycle.

April 1995

All hell lets loose.

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I don't think the argument is about the Sky money, more to do with the way it's being distributed, if the Sky money was given under a criteria that only allows the championship clubs chicken feed then I'd go with the second option

And so in that case where would the game be today then?

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I am afriad I don't see the relevence.

So football would remain unarmed without TV monies.

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So football would remain unarmed without TV monies.

Unlikely, football was massive well before any TV money and would survive very well without it. It just wouldn't have as much money rolling around.

RL has never been huge with or without TV money.

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And so in that case where would the game be today then?

Happy

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Happy

Why, read through my potted history of the previous five years. A lot of stuff was happening before Murdoch rolled up, a Premier League, Summer Rugby even mergers. All this stuff got swept up in the Murdoch deal and Sky got blamed for it. The reality is very different to a lot of peoples perception.

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I can't believe this is even seriously being discussed.

Because some people think we can throw away close to £30m/year and carry on like we did in the good old days (as per my potted history).

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I can't believe this is even seriously being discussed.

Why not? there are two views. Anyway it would greatly help if you gave us yours good sir......

"Where do you think our game would be today if we had remained semi professional??"

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