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The Parksider

The SKY contract for RL - good or bad?

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Put it this way - in the past two or three years I don't think there is a single sport that the BBC cover that hasn't had it's coverage either cut back or completely dropped.

(Bar the American Football example, which had slipped my mind and I don't know loads about)

The message seems to be that time has moved on and if the game rejected SKY it would not be able to fall back on the BBC anymore.

Would this make a semi professional game today less financially viable as regards TV noney than it was in 1995?

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In 94 we came close to beating the Aussies. As we have plenty of times since then. We even won in Sydney a few years ago.

I believe we might beat the Aussies at ever game I watch. Whats the point otherwise?

We did beat the Aussies in 1994 in one game out of three but there was an expectation of a possible series win which is obviously something rather more - something that hadn't happened since 1970.

I watch rugby league because I like rugby league. I've turned up to games that I knew where I knew the home team would get stuffed by over 50 points. A lot of people don't.

That's why the attendances are lower today. People believe that we might get the odd win over the Aussies but that we'll never beat them in a series.

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We did beat the Aussies in 1994 in one game out of three but there was an expectation of a possible series win which is obviously something rather more - something that hadn't happened since 1970.

I watch rugby league because I like rugby league. I've turned up to games that I knew where I knew the home team would get stuffed by over 50 points. A lot of people don't.

That's why the attendances are lower today. People believe that we might get the odd win over the Aussies but that we'll never beat them in a series.

TBH I'd take the odd win against them at the moment!!!!

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Was it 2002 when GB lost 3 matches to Aus, all by less than a score? All wins achieved by Aus (qv Lockyer) in the last minutes of the games?

So damn close that series too, closest I have seen in my life but its dismissed as a whitewash. I could argue that the Aussies then knew they were close to losing a series so changed the format to defend their advantage...

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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.

You must be retired.

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I think the question perhaps should be does Sky continue to be a good thing for the game. I think the Sky contract has been good for the game but it's time to explore other options if not in order to get a better contract from Sky.

The game needs more money and the obvious way round this is to extract more cash from TV.

I was watching Match of the Day 2 last night and I had to switch the post match summaries off because Hansen and Owen were just really hard to listen to; and I'm a Liverpool fan. Anybody who thinks that RL would have been better off sticking with the BBC are living in cloud cuckoo land tbh. The BBC has always seemed to really undersell the sports it has shown.

In a funny sort of way though I've always felt there is a good case for the BBC to invest in RL given it's remit.

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You must be retired.

No

Its just not the first time this argument has come up.

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In short - I'm not sure what choice we had - the BBC don't broadcast regular league games for any sport any more.

Just to be clear, the BBC show up to 3 live Pro12 rugby union matches every round. They also show delayed (but in full) coverage of one SPL match per week on BBC Alba. That in addition to the already mentioned weekly Monday night match from the NFL.

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Just to be clear, the BBC show up to 3 live Pro12 rugby union matches every round. They also show delayed (but in full) coverage of one SPL match per week on BBC Alba. That in addition to the already mentioned weekly Monday night match from the NFL.

Well done, you won a point on a technicality - go you!

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Well done, you won a point on a technicality - go you!

Just to be clear, it is more than a technicality to refute your claim that the BBC have no interest in broadcasting regular league games in any sport, and your extrapolation from it that the BBC consequently are not an option for the RFL.

Unlike the passive nature of their NFL coverage, where they simply take a feed from the US host broadcaster (originally filling commercial breaks with static graphics, before the NFL funded a studio show), the BBC's rugby union and football coverage is an active one, where they send outside broadcast units to produce the coverage.

The BBC also expanded their Pro12 coverage to include Ulster, Edinburgh, and Glasgow matches in 2010, under the current financial settlement which sees them having to make cuts across the corporation. So even in the current climate they are willing to increase their coverage of regular league games in other sports. Where the public service demand and cost is appropriate, the BBC are interested in regularly broadcasting league games.

There are fundamental differences in how BBC nations are funded and run that allows them a level of freedom that BBC English regions do not have, but if the RFL were willing to put the value of exposure ahead of the much greater income that comes from subscription TV then the BBC can be an option. While rugby league is not important to the BBC nationally, it is significant to BBC North, not only through them funding the Super League Show but also the level of coverage provided by their radio stations and online.

Were a financially acceptable deal possible,it is not impossible to envisage a situation like that with Scrum V, having matches shown live on BBC one in the north and nationally via the red button. Though personally I think it highly unlikely as the increased exposure is not as valuable as some on here seem to think that financially the BBC and the RFL will be too far apart.

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Been listening to this scenario for 60 years.

Semi Pro rugby league (which would be the way the game would go) is and was a great product, no it wouldn't die eve if Union "wiped the floor with us" as you say, It certainly cant wipe the floor with us as a specticle, never will, no matter how many rules they change or how many "sugar daddies" they have willing to to loose £millions.

And I've been watching Rugby for over 50 years and trust me back then it was far from a spectacle (relative to today) on most days.

If Union had gone pro then they would simply have moved beyond us in terms of fitness, technique and funds for any Rugby player that showed promise. No school would play the game and any semi pro club would slide into bankrupcy as they did regularly before Sky, the difference being they would never return.

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Just to be clear, it is more than a technicality to refute your claim that the BBC have no interest in broadcasting regular league games in any sport, and your extrapolation from it that the BBC consequently are not an option for the RFL.

Unlike the passive nature of their NFL coverage, where they simply take a feed from the US host broadcaster (originally filling commercial breaks with static graphics, before the NFL funded a studio show), the BBC's rugby union and football coverage is an active one, where they send outside broadcast units to produce the coverage.

The BBC also expanded their Pro12 coverage to include Ulster, Edinburgh, and Glasgow matches in 2010, under the current financial settlement which sees them having to make cuts across the corporation. So even in the current climate they are willing to increase their coverage of regular league games in other sports. Where the public service demand and cost is appropriate, the BBC are interested in regularly broadcasting league games.

There are fundamental differences in how BBC nations are funded and run that allows them a level of freedom that BBC English regions do not have, but if the RFL were willing to put the value of exposure ahead of the much greater income that comes from subscription TV then the BBC can be an option. While rugby league is not important to the BBC nationally, it is significant to BBC North, not only through them funding the Super League Show but also the level of coverage provided by their radio stations and online.

Were a financially acceptable deal possible,it is not impossible to envisage a situation like that with Scrum V, having matches shown live on BBC one in the north and nationally via the red button. Though personally I think it highly unlikely as the increased exposure is not as valuable as some on here seem to think that financially the BBC and the RFL will be too far apart.

I didn't state they had no interest, I made the point that they don't cover the major sports - I meant the biggest leagues and the biggest channels.

Red button options and local channels are not an area where RL should be going, and that is my point about it being a technicality.

People are not suggesting that we should be broadcast on BBC Alba.

National BBC1-4 do not regularly broadcast any standard league games from any major leagues in the UK.

I agree with your last line. I wouldn't expect that we could pick up enough ancillary income to cover a large drop in central TV funding.

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If Union had gone pro then they would simply have moved beyond us in terms of fitness, technique and funds for any Rugby player that showed promise. No school would play the game and any semi pro club would slide into bankrupcy as they did regularly before Sky, the difference being they would never return.

One of the arguments made against Superleague was that without SKY and professional RL the player base would not suffer. I researched where all the adults/kids come from to form junior sides whose best go on to be professionals and it's overwhelmingly from Superleague areas. Big attractive "see us on TV, see us on the news" Superleague clubs seem to pull the kids in.

I know the CC clubs don't.

But I'm told what inspires, attracts and facilitates the development of kids is RL development officers. That's what I'm told gets the kids playing, keeps them playing and inspires them to uproot and find SL academies to join.

Thank you for your opinion.

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Were a financially acceptable deal possible,it is not impossible to envisage a situation like that with Scrum V, having matches shown live on BBC one in the north and nationally via the red button.

Well it seems to be an opinion that the value of RL to the BBC would be greatly reduced from pre-SKY levels.

Would the BBC be interested in regional semi professional sport with no RU stars.

i.e a "poor relation". When Scott Quinnel and Jonathan Davies were prancing around Wigan and Wides and RU was a mudbath was the value of the game far greater than it would be today?

Would going semi pro = far less TV money than pre 1996?

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We did beat the Aussies in 1994 in one game out of three but there was an expectation of a possible series win which is obviously something rather more - something that hadn't happened since 1970.

I watch rugby league because I like rugby league. I've turned up to games that I knew where I knew the home team would get stuffed by over 50 points. A lot of people don't.

That's why the attendances are lower today. People believe that we might get the odd win over the Aussies but that we'll never beat them in a series.

One one hand one would worry what the scores/attendances would be if we went semi-professional.

However people say the best British RL players would go to Australia, where some say they could hone their skills and develop better as players.

Could such a Great Britain team do BETTER against Australia and attract BIGGER crowds in the way New Zealand players playing in the NRL have provided NZ with their competitiveness??

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One of the arguments made against Superleague was that without SKY and professional RL the player base would not suffer. I researched where all the adults/kids come from to form junior sides whose best go on to be professionals and it's overwhelmingly from Superleague areas. Big attractive "see us on TV, see us on the news" Superleague clubs seem to pull the kids in.

I know the CC clubs don't.

But I'm told what inspires, attracts and facilitates the development of kids is RL development officers. That's what I'm told gets the kids playing, keeps them playing and inspires them to uproot and find SL academies to join.

Thank you for your opinion.

Or it could just be the money of course!

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Or it could just be the money of course!

Well it could couldn't it.

If there's no money in British RL it probably won't attract the players whether an aspiring kid or a seasoned pro who has just had his redundancy notice due to pulling the SKY plug.

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Was it 2002 when GB lost 3 matches to Aus, all by less than a score? All wins achieved by Aus (qv Lockyer) in the last minutes of the games?

So damn close that series too, closest I have seen in my life but its dismissed as a whitewash. I could argue that the Aussies then knew they were close to losing a series so changed the format to defend their advantage...

So close that the series featured heavily on an Australian DVD called 'Great Escapes of Rugby League'.

But it didn't fit the "we're further behind the Aussies than ever" argument, so it never happened, right? ;)

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Well it could couldn't it.

If there's no money in British RL it probably won't attract the players whether an aspiring kid or a seasoned pro who has just had his redundancy notice due to pulling the SKY plug.

As always your right Parky, RL did not attract a single decent player before SKY.....

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the value of exposure ahead of the much greater income that comes from subscription TV then the BBC can be an option.

Just to be clear, just to be clear, what do you think that value is?

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As always your right Parky, RL did not attract a single decent player before SKY.....

The issue, though is not that players we no good before Sky/SL but where would those players be now if Sky etc had not happened. I'd say those players would be playing union at the top level, not amateur or semi pro rugby league.

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What's the saying, extraordinary claims require extraordinary eveidence? It strikes me that a claim that RL in the UK is worse for having accepted the sky deal in 95 is by almost any consideration an extraordinary one.

Firstly who is to say that Sky/News international would have just walked away if they had been knocked back. We have know exactly how they responded to exactly that scenario in Ausralia. Any serious consideration of the result of turning sky down must at least consider the possibilty of Sky simply recruiting the top clubs of the day to leave the RFL and play in a new competition.

Secondly, how many of the decisons/changes that people may say have been wrong or detrimental have been a result of accepting the sky deal? I'm struggling to think of many, probably London & Paris wouldn't have been invited to compete in the top league in '95 maybe the same applies to gateshead and Catalans. I would readily accept that with the exception of Catalans none of them have massive successes but equally id struggle to make a case for them having taken the cause of RL in the UK backwards.

Of the major changes in the game since the advent of SL i cant think of any that sky have insisted on or even pushed for. Summer rugby may taken longer to happen but it was coming,. Im not aware that sky dictate the distrbution if tv funds, they certainly didnt for the initial contract as several non SL clubs got sizable chunks of it. Twinning is largely the result of not enough money rather than too much.

Maybe its possible to suggest that without the sky money available in SL financial consequences of relegation would not be so dramatic and as such the case for licensing could not have been made. However that kind of assumes no tv deal at all. Perhaps if a lesser deal had been in place licensing would hzve come even earlier.

The initial offer from Sky was for the money to be for the televising of SL only, Murdoch pitched the bid so high because he wanted to ensure that the UK branch of his Star League (Super League) could compete with the ARL as far as contract money went during his battle with Packer, by default that money was exclusively therefore for SL.

The RFL had a problem though in that the excluded clubs were extremely unhappy at the situation, particularly as there was nothing in it for them. Lindsey went back to News International and got more money out of them exclusively to buy off the clubs who would be outside SL, NI said basically that was it and they could take it or leave it and don't come back for more later.

I don't have the figures at hand but I think each 2nd division club got around £100,000 and each 3rd tier club got around £50.000.

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As always your right Parky, RL did not attract a single decent player before SKY.....

As John M outlines the point is that before SKY RL could outspend Union and could take Unions stars like Bateman, Davies, Quinnell etc. Union were amateur (albeit it they had underhand payments)

If we dump SKY, union can take any RL player they want who needs a living wage because now they can outspend us.

And if the players want to stay in RL then Australia is the place to earn that living wage.

Your post seems to have a dig at me? Why not focus on the debate and the facts as John M and myself have outlined them to you?

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The issue, though is not that players we no good before Sky/SL but where would those players be now if Sky etc had not happened. I'd say those players would be playing union at the top level, not amateur or semi pro rugby league.

....like they did before SKY eh?

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