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Barwick's latest on the Broncos

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If you want the sport to really thrive in the long run in Greater London, you need to get the structures in place lower down the pyramid and develop local RL culture. I would much sooner the governing body invest in that, in a proper business like way dividing the region into different territories with clear medium and long term objectives, than throw money at a SL club.

Just to be clear, there is a lot to do in London so why would people unfamiliar with the game want to watch a lower tier rugby league club?

Sure they could be a success at that level, as you can argue the Skolare are, but they are nor going to grow thousands of new fans necessary to make that step up. Northern Championship clubs are ingrained parts of their community and so have latent support that will return when they move to a higher level, a London club will not have that. Instead if and when they get promoted they will have to work hard to attract new fans exactly the same as if they started at that higher level.

As for putting a team on compass points, that will not work either because they mean nothing to Londoner. Not only does Croydon mean nothing to the majority of south London, for people coming from the south eats or south west to get to Croydon they would have to get a train into then out of central London. A long and relatively expensive journey for a lower tier team. Similarly for many in east London it means going via central London to get to Wood Green. These compass point teams will be too far away to get on local radio stations or in local papers that they would offer nothing to London as a whole. They would only be relevant to their specific local areas, and so it is difficult to see what they would offer over what the amateur clubs currently do in their communities.

If the Broncos attracted 10,000 to every match they would still end up with a lower aggregate in the city than will watch the NFL. Yet how many American football fans know a London club has contested the domestic title in each of the last 15 years, the city of have only lost twice, and the last two finals bowling all-London affairs.

London is not like small northern towns, or small southern ones like Hemel Hempstead, where a semi-professional club can be its highest profile team and become a focal point for the community. In Wood Green you have to fight Tottenham and Arsenal for attention, in Twickenham it is Harlequins, in Croydon it would be Crystal Palace and in Barnet it would be Saracens. And in places like Lewisham, Ilford, Finchley and Roehampton no one will even know about a semi-professional rugby league club in an area that happens to share a compass point but means nothing to their community. Someone in Redbridge is not going to suddenly become interested in the Skolars team just because they will get six London derbies a season.

A bottom-up approach may be the correct one to use in some areas, but not for London. While lower tier clubs may be a good for developing players, they will do next to nothing to generate interest in the game as a spectator sport. And if you ever want the game to grow to the point of being able to sustain a professional club starting that way will only defer the point at which you will need to make a major investment that you may as well do that, and hope that success will see communities form their own clubs on the back of the interest generated.

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Just to be clear, there is a lot to do in London so why would people unfamiliar with the game want to watch a lower tier rugby league club?

Sure they could be a success at that level, as you can argue the Skolare are, but they are nor going to grow thousands of new fans necessary to make that step up. Northern Championship clubs are ingrained parts of their community and so have latent support that will return when they move to a higher level, a London club will not have that. Instead if and when they get promoted they will have to work hard to attract new fans exactly the same as if they started at that higher level.

As for putting a team on compass points, that will not work either because they mean nothing to Londoner. Not only does Croydon mean nothing to the majority of south London, for people coming from the south eats or south west to get to Croydon they would have to get a train into then out of central London. A long and relatively expensive journey for a lower tier team. Similarly for many in east London it means going via central London to get to Wood Green. These compass point teams will be too far away to get on local radio stations or in local papers that they would offer nothing to London as a whole. They would only be relevant to their specific local areas, and so it is difficult to see what they would offer over what the amateur clubs currently do in their communities.

If the Broncos attracted 10,000 to every match they would still end up with a lower aggregate in the city than will watch the NFL. Yet how many American football fans know a London club has contested the domestic title in each of the last 15 years, the city of have only lost twice, and the last two finals bowling all-London affairs.

London is not like small northern towns, or small southern ones like Hemel Hempstead, where a semi-professional club can be its highest profile team and become a focal point for the community. In Wood Green you have to fight Tottenham and Arsenal for attention, in Twickenham it is Harlequins, in Croydon it would be Crystal Palace and in Barnet it would be Saracens. And in places like Lewisham, Ilford, Finchley and Roehampton no one will even know about a semi-professional rugby league club in an area that happens to share a compass point but means nothing to their community. Someone in Redbridge is not going to suddenly become interested in the Skolars team just because they will get six London derbies a season.

A bottom-up approach may be the correct one to use in some areas, but not for London. While lower tier clubs may be a good for developing players, they will do next to nothing to generate interest in the game as a spectator sport. And if you ever want the game to grow to the point of being able to sustain a professional club starting that way will only defer the point at which you will need to make a major investment that you may as well do that, and hope that success will see communities form their own clubs on the back of the interest generated.

You argue that Croydon etc mean nothing to people outside Croydon then argue that Tottenham and Arsenal (Highbury) are big in Wood Green. How does that work then?

 

Your other point about trains going into central London and thus someone from south London needs to go into central London and back out to south London is just nonsense. Nobody bar tourists does that. The trains might work that way but buses don't.

 

The bit about Americans just isn't clear at all (see what I did there?).

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If the Broncos attracted 10,000 to every match they would still end up with a lower aggregate in the city than will watch the NFL. Yet how many American football fans know a London club has contested the domestic title in each of the last 15 years, the city of have only lost twice, and the last two finals bowling all-London affairs.

 

 

I think this is a very good point. Alot of people in London are interested in NFL, but very few of them are interested in watching low-level American Football played between two London teams.

 

The general public who are interested in watching sport are interested in top-level sport - not watching 2nd, 3rd, or 4th-rate level sport. Your floating supporter isn't going to be attracted by a club playing 2nd or 3rd level RL in a championship competition against the likes of Hunslet and Swinton. But this type of supporter may well be interested in a successful London club featuring rugby superstars such as Sam Tomkins, Sonny Bill Williams, Brian O'Driscoll etc. However, this will cost a vast amount of money to recruit players and market the team effectively.

 

To say that London people aren't interested in RL is not accurate - the vast majority don't even know what RL is, let alone whether or not they are interested in it. However, to stimulate sufficient interest, £millions will need to be spent. For London to ever have a remote chance of competing, the salary cap and SKY contributions need to be London-weighted. Given the higher cost of living, London are essentially handicapped in their recruitment compared to their northern counterparts. However - given that the RL salary cap is arguably too low to retain the game's star players - it is likely that London would also require a cap dispensation and a wealthy benefactor in order to recruit a competitive squad that would contain enough star players to capture the public's imagination (and this would probably require some high-profile RU signings to help generate interest). The likelihood of this eventuality is probably pretty low...

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You argue that Croydon etc mean nothing to people outside Croydon then argue that Tottenham and Arsenal (Highbury) are big in Wood Green. How does that work then?

Just to be clear, Green Lanes towards Finsbury Park is the main bus and shopping route, not to mention bing on the Piccadilly Line. You may have a point about Tottenham, but people always make a connection to the Skolars because they are at opposite ends of the same road, but Arsenal is a local club.

Both are also clubs with long histories and so ingrained in the community, and both play in the most popular sport league in the world. Of course they are going to generate more interest and have a naturally larger catchment than a brand new semi-professional club in a sport that few people in the area have any interest in. Do you really need that explaining?

Your other point about trains going into central London and thus someone from south London needs to go into central London and back out to south London is just nonsense. Nobody bar tourists does that. The trains might work that way but buses don't.

Precisely, the trains work that way, and that is what people use to travel the sort of journeys that would be required for people in Ham and Eltham to get to their compass point club in Croydon.

The deepest bus routes from Croydon into south east London are to Lewisham or Bromley and both take over an hour while the same takes 45 minutes by train including the wait time at London Bridge or Victoria. Anyone not on the line of those bus routes, which is most of south east London, will find the advantage of the train even quicker than adding extra bus stages.

From south west London there is just the X26 to Heathrow via Kingston but otherwise you cannot get any deeper than Morden, Tooting or Wimbledon by tram. You do not have to go all the way into central London from that side, but you still have to head out to Clapham Junction to change.

The point remains that Croydon is not conveniently accessible to large parts of south London, and whether by bus or train a club an hour away is not going to be considered local or part of a community just because it is all "south of the river, innit". And similar cases can be made for the other compass points.

The bit about Americans just isn't clear at all (see what I did there?).

RugbyLeagueGeek has explained, but domestically to be clear: in American football London has dominated the sport yet most NFL fans do not even know those domestic teams exist. The bulk of the interest in that sport, just like with all others, is in its top professional league.

Even when the London Monarchs played in NFL Europe, and had their derbies with the Scottish Claymores, the attendances were a fraction of those who went to watch American teams come here to play pre-season matches in which they rested their big names. The TV audience for NFL Europe was lower than the NFL because people were less interested in a lower tier league. An aggregate of almost 170,000 people will watch the NFL in London this year, few of whom will ever watch the London Blitz or London Warriors. They will not go to Wembley because they were attracted by local community clubs playing in the park but because they want to see the best athletes playing at the top of their game. Rugby league has no special magical properties that make it any different.

Almost every week on here we see people telling us they are losing interest in watching the likes of Leigh because Championship rugby is not enough for them. So if that is not good enough for those who grew up as fans of the game in a town where it is the only professional team, how on earth can anyone think Londoners, to a number that would grow the game as a spectator sport, would forgo their 6 Premier League clubs, 2 county cricket clubs, 2 premiership rugby union clubs, countless Football League clubs, various other sports and various international sporting events, to instead chose to spend hours on buses (because they are not tourists, apparently) to go and watch lowest tier semi-professional rugby league?

Also consider basketball, it is one of the biggest sports in the world and in the UK it is played in many schools while most parks have hoops these days. The number of kids who grow up learning that sport is a level of grassroots development we could only dream of, yet as a spectator sport it is still almost an afterthought. The two are very different things and need to be developed separately.

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I have heard from a couple of sources the Broncos may well be moving to this site next season:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hive_Stadium

 

Potentially be the only users in the not too distant future as well:

 

''The club still wants to play within its traditional Barnet and the new facility is largely a temporary facility which can be scaled down when the club moves to its preferred home in the London Borough of Barnet.

It remains to be seen whether the London Broncos will become an anchor tenant on the site as former Charlton Athletic director David Hughes was seen at the Hive meeting withAnthony Kleanthous with the possibility of the London club taking over the site within a decade being one topic thought to have been discussed.''

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Just to be clear, Green Lanes towards Finsbury Park is the main bus and shopping route, not to mention bing on the Piccadilly Line. You may have a point about Tottenham, but people always make a connection to the Skolars because they are at opposite ends of the same road, but Arsenal is a local club.

Both are also clubs with long histories and so ingrained in the community, and both play in the most popular sport league in the world. Of course they are going to generate more interest and have a naturally larger catchment than a brand new semi-professional club in a sport that few people in the area have any interest in. Do you really need that explaining?

Precisely, the trains work that way, and that is what people use to travel the sort of journeys that would be required for people in Ham and Eltham to get to their compass point club in Croydon.

The deepest bus routes from Croydon into south east London are to Lewisham or Bromley and both take over an hour while the same takes 45 minutes by train including the wait time at London Bridge or Victoria. Anyone not on the line of those bus routes, which is most of south east London, will find the advantage of the train even quicker than adding extra bus stages.

From south west London there is just the X26 to Heathrow via Kingston but otherwise you cannot get any deeper than Morden, Tooting or Wimbledon by tram. You do not have to go all the way into central London from that side, but you still have to head out to Clapham Junction to change.

The point remains that Croydon is not conveniently accessible to large parts of south London, and whether by bus or train a club an hour away is not going to be considered local or part of a community just because it is all "south of the river, innit". And similar cases can be made for the other compass points.

RugbyLeagueGeek has explained, but domestically to be clear: in American football London has dominated the sport yet most NFL fans do not even know those domestic teams exist. The bulk of the interest in that sport, just like with all others, is in its top professional league.

Even when the London Monarchs played in NFL Europe, and had their derbies with the Scottish Claymores, the attendances were a fraction of those who went to watch American teams come here to play pre-season matches in which they rested their big names. The TV audience for NFL Europe was lower than the NFL because people were less interested in a lower tier league. An aggregate of almost 170,000 people will watch the NFL in London this year, few of whom will ever watch the London Blitz or London Warriors. They will not go to Wembley because they were attracted by local community clubs playing in the park but because they want to see the best athletes playing at the top of their game. Rugby league has no special magical properties that make it any different.

Almost every week on here we see people telling us they are losing interest in watching the likes of Leigh because Championship rugby is not enough for them. So if that is not good enough for those who grew up as fans of the game in a town where it is the only professional team, how on earth can anyone think Londoners, to a number that would grow the game as a spectator sport, would forgo their 6 Premier League clubs, 2 county cricket clubs, 2 premiership rugby union clubs, countless Football League clubs, various other sports and various international sporting events, to instead chose to spend hours on buses (because they are not tourists, apparently) to go and watch lowest tier semi-professional rugby league?

Also consider basketball, it is one of the biggest sports in the world and in the UK it is played in many schools while most parks have hoops these days. The number of kids who grow up learning that sport is a level of grassroots development we could only dream of, yet as a spectator sport it is still almost an afterthought. The two are very different things and need to be developed separately.

I think the thing you are missing is that one-off events will always get a bigger audience than week-in, week-out events. The NFL play one game in London a year, naturally the attendance is higher than for the Monarchs who played every week. And quite a lot of that crowd fly in from continental Europe especially Germany. Broncos would get a decent crowd if they only played one game a year.

 

Not to mention that American football really isn't a good spectator sport at levels below NFL. NFL Europe was a rejigged version of the World League which flopped badly in North America (since they were unprepared to watch mickey mouse American football). the World League uniquely had much better crowds in its expansion areas than in its heartlands! Quite the opposite of rugby league.

 

The other issue is that the English invented most sports and have limited interest in playing or following sports deemed foreign. For this reason, there are lots of basketball courts in England but people don't play basketball on them even if basketball is a school sport. 

 

With regard to your point about catchment area. Naturally a higher profile team will have a larger catchment area. Broncos fans do tend to come from all over London. Skolars fans probably don't so much but there are really two kinds of fans. Those who will respond to a new club on their doorstep because it is close and those who are already league fans and will travel. I doubt that all Skolars fans live locally.

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the World League uniquely had much better crowds in its expansion areas than in its heartlands! Quite the opposite of rugby league.

That's because the american football 'heartlands' had NFL to watch - i.e. the top level of the sport - and fans weren't interested in a 2nd rate product as you point out.

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The other issue is that the English invented most sports and have limited interest in playing or following sports deemed foreign. For this reason, there are lots of basketball courts in England but people don't play basketball on them even if basketball is a school sport. 

Really? Both of these are somewhat sweeping statements - do you have nay evidence to back these up? I always thought basketball was a very popular participation sport over here.

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 I really do want London to be a successful side to raise the profile of the game in London, but they are not doing themselves any favours at the moment..

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Not to mention that American football really isn't a good spectator sport at levels below NFL.

Just to be clear, far more people in the US attend college games than NFL ones. Many actually think the poorer defences at that level make it more enjoyable to watch compared to the professional game where it is more clinical. Somewhat similar to how some claim Super League makes for a better spectacle then the NRL. Also, while I forget the exact figure, the NFL claim that somewhere around 95% of tickets sold for the games at Wembley are to British addresses.

Although the minutiae of American Football support is veering too far from the topic. And none of which refutes the point that there connection between general public interest in community clubs and top flight ones is small.

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Skolars are still around ten years on. They are higher in the league now than 5 years ago and the crowds are bigger. They have DR Broncos players and run a second team in the London RL structure. They are trying to get the finance to buy their stadium.

 

None of of this counts as "real development" though.

You forgot to add that they are appearing in their first cup final shortly and have made Friday night lights a minor event for leaguies on the eve of the Challenge Cup final.

Compared to that little list what have the Broncos done in the last ten years apart from enter terminal decline.No team, no ground and maybe no investor soon. Yea Broncos are an indispensable standard bearer for SL and a shining light for others to follow.

They have one slim hope of redemption in the Challenge Cup this season but they have the very real problem of knocking off a real expansion/development success story at Sheffield to rescue them from oblivion.

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Just to be clear, far more people in the US attend college games than NFL ones. Many actually think the poorer defences at that level make it more enjoyable to watch compared to the professional game where it is more clinical. Somewhat similar to how some claim Super League makes for a better spectacle then the NRL. Also, while I forget the exact figure, the NFL claim that somewhere around 95% of tickets sold for the games at Wembley are to British addresses.

Although the minutiae of American Football support is veering too far from the topic. And none of which refutes the point that there connection between general public interest in community clubs and top flight ones is small.

College football is terrible. They drop the ball all the time and there is no continuity in play.

 

The only reason why attendances are good is that is the major universities are where the NFL teams aren't.

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Really? Both of these are somewhat sweeping statements - do you have nay evidence to back these up? I always thought basketball was a very popular participation sport over here.

Among who?

 

I see a lot of basketball courts but I rarely see people playing basketball on them.

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Among who?

 

I see a lot of basketball courts but I rarely see people playing basketball on them.

I'm not an expect on basketball participation by any means, but I seem to recall seeing their sport having higher participation numbers than RL, for example. This is despite it being a 'foreign' sport, as you put it.

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The only reason why attendances are good is that is the major universities are where the NFL teams aren't.

Just to be clear, how does that work? First you claimed the WLAF and NFL Europe failed because American football below the NFL level is unwatchable, even when those leagues were in cities without NFL teams. Now you claim people will watch non-NFL football, in their hundreds of thousands, if they are the only option. And if it was that simple minor league baseball attendances would be much higher than they are, where vey few if any break four figure averages. And that is not accounting for the very good TV ratings for college football that clearly show it is not some niche interest exclusive to college towns and alumni.

On the other point, I have seen basketball courts in parks being used just as often as football fields. The sports I see being played recreationally in parks most often though are tennis and cricket.

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Just to be clear, how does that work? First you claimed the WLAF and NFL Europe failed because American football below the NFL level is unwatchable, even when those leagues were in cities without NFL teams. Now you claim people will watch non-NFL football, in their hundreds of thousands, if they are the only option. And if it was that simple minor league baseball attendances would be much higher than they are, where vey few if any break four figure averages. And that is not accounting for the very good TV ratings for college football that clearly show it is not some niche interest exclusive to college towns and alumni.

On the other point, I have seen basketball courts in parks being used just as often as football fields. The sports I see being played recreationally in parks most often though are tennis and cricket.

I see basketball courts used frequently - for playing soccer on - London is the only place I've ever seen kids playing basketball outside school.

 

Anyway I said American football below the NFL isn't a good spectator sport, I didn't say it was unwatchable. I don't think you could compare the standard in college football to whatever the league the London Blitz play in. It's like comparing the Queensland Cup to an expansion league somewhere in Eastern Europe. The difference being that low level league is still a good game to watch.

 

I don't really think American football sides in the UK have really promoted themselves as a spectator sport. As far as I can tell it's just a bit of fun with nobody having any serious pretence of trying to create a professional league. 

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A bottom-up approach may be the correct one to use in some areas, but not for London. While lower tier clubs may be a good for developing players, they will do next to nothing to generate interest in the game as a spectator sport. And if you ever want the game to grow to the point of being able to sustain a professional club starting that way will only defer the point at which you will need to make a major investment that you may as well do that, and hope that success will see communities form their own clubs on the back of the interest generated.

 

Back on topic bottom up hasn't been the correct approach in any areas.

 

What underpins the game in it's heartlands is of course "strong roots" and "tradition" but those roots were put down many years ago in the 1860's and 1870's when rugby was the dominant game,and the sporting public a blank canvas. That's how far back our successful clubs go back to, and that was where, when and how they managed to put roots down and carry a tradition of league that gives the game strength today. That can't be replicated in a totally different world.

 

It can't be replicated in Sheffield, Doncaster, Chorley, Blackpool and certainly not London for the same reasons.

 

Yes of course it can succeed at the level people are interested in it, and that's amateur level throughout Britain. Thankfully there's enough interest in our alternative rugby game to develop a national amateur presence.

 

The deferring of the point of "investment" is a brilliant point. I know a sheffield soccer club well, they are top amateurs and are always thinking semi-pro. Discussing this with one of those in charge at the club, he set out the massive investment needed just to start paying the players. Did he think that if they did there would be a return on that investment and "growth"?

 

No not at all and of course the more you put in mercenary players pockets, the less you can spend on the kids or the ground, and so without sustained investment the change to semi pro can actually lead to stagnation and decline. It may be easy to wax lyrical about what your club has achieved from nothing, and yes Hemel, Skolars, Admirals etc have achieved a heck of a lot and are good for Rugby League holding the games own, but the idea there's growth up the league flies right into the face of fact, logic and history.

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So do nothing then because it's all a waste of time?

 

The alternatives are bottom-up growth or do nothing. 

 

Top-down growth isn't an option until someone is prepared to fund it. The issue is what to do until that point: bottom-up growth or no growth.

 

If you argue against bottom-up growth on the grounds that "it's all a waste of time" then you arguing for no growth. 

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So do nothing then because it's all a waste of time?

 

The alternatives are bottom-up growth or do nothing. 

 

Top-down growth isn't an option until someone is prepared to fund it. The issue is what to do until that point: bottom-up growth or no growth.

 

If you argue against bottom-up growth on the grounds that "it's all a waste of time" then you arguing for no growth. 

 

Not only do the SL lovers want no growth but, in fact, they want negative growth AKA  regression.

 

They want a ten team league with 20% of the teams in another country. To achieve this they are prepared to jettison uo to six current top tier teams and thwart the ambitions of any relevant Championship Clubs.

 

They see no future for the game in Wales or any part of England outside the heartlands and maybe London. Not being content with that, the overarching greed of these aristocrat clubs has decided to emasculate the championships even further by turning a majority of them into A teams, all so they can dispose of their junior development expenses. They will deal with the eventual player shortage when it happens, I guess.

 

In the absence of any top down investors ever appearing, they are prepared to continue on ad infinitum with an unchaning and unchangeable top league and hope that boredom and repeat fixture overkill will never affect them.

 

Ostrichs should be their mascots.

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