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Keith T

Getting the crowds back!

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It has often been said that the game below Super League is dying and the attendance figures seem to be agreeing with that point of view.

This year there has been a marked decrease in average attendances on last year with most clubs down anywhere between 10% and 30%, the exceptions being Featherstone whose average crowd rose by 356 to 2416 (at the present time before the Sheffield match), Hunslet up by 50 and Swinton up by 4. (These figures are for League matches only)

Our average dropped from 892 last season when we were in Championship 1 to 803 this season and Haven show a similar trend with theirs dropping from 814 last season to 772 this season. The other promoted teams Barrow and Doncaster saw a drop of 393 and 6 respectively on their last season average.

Looking back just 8 years ago, Town were in National League 2 and Haven in NL1 and had average gates of over 1000 & 2000 respectively with derby games attracting around 3,000+ fans, now we are lucky to get 1,000 depending on the weather!!!

Where have all those fans gone to and how do we get some of them back? What can we as fans do to help the clubs get some of these fans back? What can the club do to attract more fans back? Are there too many other activities and events in the summer months that cause people to miss games, which was a point that anti-summer voices said would happen?

I know that we have been having an economic recession and money has been tight for many people but it is surely more than that as this has been a gradual drop not just this past season.

We have been promoted this season to a higher league and yet we can't attract more fans back to support the team, so just what will bring them back? Has Super League been the death-knell for lower leagues as people can get their rugby league "fix" watching it on television? There is and has been for some time a perception amongst lower league clubs that the RFL couldn't care less about lower league clubs as long as SL is okay and that seems to be the attitude of many SL club Chairman, the "I'm alright Jack" syndrome.

A lot of questions there that I don't think the RFL restructuring is going to answer but then again what will?

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Super league killed the game at our level when promotion was done away with, I,ve no doubt of that.

But will the crowds come back if promotion was reinstated? I doubt it, people have moved on.

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Keith, I have often wondered if one way to get the casual follower through the gates would be to play as many games as posible as early as posible in the weekend. Ideally on a Friday night before any other weekend activities get chance to get their hands on people's spare cash. Before they go and watch the local football team or speedway team. Before they have a Saturday night out on the town. Before the missus drags them round Ikea or whatever. A lot of people get that "Friday feeling" and just want to let go and have some fun while their wallets are full.

Obviously the fact that teams are made up of lads who have to work causes issues and in the case of the Cumbrian teams geographical location adds to the problem. I do wonder if there is a way clubs could cope with this, if not for every game, for occasional games that could be backed up with extra effort on promotion of the game. Perhaps before the season starts clubs in favour of trying this approach could agree on an individual basis to travel to each others grounds on a Friday night. This should be manageable between neighbours such as Batley and Dewsbury or Workington and Whitehaven etc. Most clubs must have a fixture that annually clashes with something going on locally so why not allow them to approach clubs in the close season and do a deal that could be fed into the fixture planners.

I might be clutching at straws but I agree with you and we either try to improve the situation or resign ourselves to the demise of semi pro rugby league.

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Are there any solutions ? Shame if there isn't . Don't know if will make a marked difference but we have floodlights , lets use them more.

Something a bit special ( certainly different ) about a night game . 'Summer ' rugby is set up for evening games . Pick a few out for selection and compare attendances ?

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Whilst not against evening games under floodlights looking at the evidence of our last two fixtures (Keighley and York), both with a bit of interest for both teams, we had 2 of our 3 worst attendances of the season!!! On that same theme would playing on Friday evening get the TV fans away from their televisions or out of the pubs to come and watch Town versus Swinton or Batley?

Just been channel hopping and there is a womens cricket match on Sky and the crowd is 5,500. The commentators were applauding the Essex County for having a fair price and family tickets, etc, and other entertainment that has brought several families in. Is this the way to go and if so how can we expect the board of directors (all 3 or 4 of them) to take on more than they are currently doing?

My own personal feeling is that as much as everyone says they prefer summer rugby it is that which is the biggest drawback to getting people to the games. People, including players, missing games through having holidays. Big decisions to be made on a nice warm summers day as to whether to go to the Town match or go to that barbeque that your mates are going to or that trip to Blackpool for a stag or hen weekend, as invariably weddings are in the summer months, and so on.

I will go and watch whenever we play our matches and all the other diehards will be the same BUT it is those that are not so committed that we need to get back from the pubs and clubs, the barbeques, the stag/hen do's, etc,. The question is "How"?

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Its the old vicious circle. Results on the pitch will bring people back, but to get them results the club needs more money through the turnstiles to bring the necessary players in. We need a team that can compete with the top 5 in this league and that wont be cheap. So the answer IMO is some investment in the squad but where will that come from though.

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Really difficult to get the stay away fans back Keith....ive been really disappointed with the attendances at Craven Park this year I thought we would have topped last years figures by 2-300.... but we cannot even match last year so where have they gone......they have gone due to a losing side who play poor rugby (subjective and only in my opinion), the extra cost of the Championship over C1 and struggling finances in the home budget ? Just my thoughts ?

 

Lee

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Yes it's a tough one . Any ideas are just tinkering if its a much deeper problem . Shame though , it's a great product to watch in the flesh. No amount of watching on telly does it justice .

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They should do the £150 season ticket and shirt for say 500 people and then whatever on top for say £175 then punters who just want to go to a game every now and then £15 per game, or 3 games for £35 or something, a little reduction for loyalty goes along way!! I hope someone who is at the club reads this as I know it would work if marketed correctly

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Personally I don't think it would work. The club have a loyal fan base who would stick with them through thick and thin and whilst I believe there should be a reward for loyalty it would cost the club money from people who are already prepared to pay it. To offer it to 500 people would be completely pointless as on an average gate of 900 or so you'd be lucky to have 200 season ticket holders and even they would be made up of a percentage of concessions.

The issue is that the RFL have no interest in rugby outside of SL and seem to think because the NRL structure works in Oz it will in the UK which is probably easier than thinking for themselves. In thinking that they obviously don't understand the history and tradition of RL in this country and are systematically ruining the sport in the process. By the time they realise a number of clubs will have merged or be out of business meaning its irreversible.

I sometimes wonder are an agency employed by the RFU as they couldn't do more for the rah rahs than they already are!

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If you don't offer it how would you know 500 for a reduced ticket and shirt may well attract people or even 300 I'm talking people who are loyal but also give the opportunity to people who are part time supporters or new to take game.

I know of a good few guy that as soon as Sean briscoe signed wanted to come and see town play instantly

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I think the deeper issue is the time of year that we play the games. I'm a rugby league nut and spent most of my spare time with rugby in the winter with the county squad, Barla and my club as well as watching Town games, its now end of August and for the first time since I started playing as an eight year old I'm ready for a break from the game and that includes watching, summer is a time for weekends away BBQs weddings hols etc and that is showing in attendance and playing numbers game wide, time to wake up and smell the coffee, apart form mini mods RL should be played in winter rant over

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Fair point and some of the players do have to holiday too and as there part time it's always going to happen during the summer months

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Not easy this one, always going to be arguments for summer or winter rugby, personally I preferred winter and matches on a Friday night, if championship went to winter then no clash with SL , but maybe not practical now, the game has been mucked about too much already.

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Whilst not against evening games under floodlights looking at the evidence of our last two fixtures (Keighley and York), both with a bit of interest for both teams, we had 2 of our 3 worst attendances of the season!!! On that same theme would playing on Friday evening get the TV fans away from their televisions or out of the pubs to come and watch Town versus Swinton or Batley?

Just been channel hopping and there is a womens cricket match on Sky and the crowd is 5,500. The commentators were applauding the Essex County for having a fair price and family tickets, etc, and other entertainment that has brought several families in. Is this the way to go and if so how can we expect the board of directors (all 3 or 4 of them) to take on more than they are currently doing?

My own personal feeling is that as much as everyone says they prefer summer rugby it is that which is the biggest drawback to getting people to the games. People, including players, missing games through having holidays. Big decisions to be made on a nice warm summers day as to whether to go to the Town match or go to that barbeque that your mates are going to or that trip to Blackpool for a stag or hen weekend, as invariably weddings are in the summer months, and so on.

I will go and watch whenever we play our matches and all the other diehards will be the same BUT it is those that are not so committed that we need to get back from the pubs and clubs, the barbeques, the stag/hen do's, etc,. The question is "How"?

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Keith the games against Keighley and York don't reflect the point I was making as Wednesday night and Thursday night are further away from the last pay packet than Sunday afternoons are.

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A double header rugby then speedway every now and then or reds match then town match? £20 ticket ideas ideas......

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Personally I don't want to go back to winter rugby . Freezing cold much of the time , cancellations aplenty and affected pitches . Can't see many more making the efforts in worse weather . I like the better and more conducive conditions to watch and pitches are great . Rugby ( should ) be more attractive all round . Certainly stick to summer for me but what to do within that sphere ... Pass . It's a creeping endemic throughout the lower leagues certainly . Credit to clubs for even surviving and progressing .

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If you do offer it and it doesn't work it could cost a fortune. From an income perspective it could do the club out of funds at a vital stage of the season. People aren't coming because they aren't interested not because of the price and as proof of that how many still go now that the novelty has worn off?

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That's right . That's why it's such a problem . They're not coming because they're not interested enough to come . Time of year , price , things on the telly etc . These are slight smoke screens . People were watching , now they're not . Interested enough to listen , or see the score , but not get up and turn up . Conquering that , well good luck ! If only a fraction of the number who sign petitions or glory hunt to Old Trafford popped up again we'd be ok . Administrators always face a tough job beating apathy .

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If we try it they will come, defeatist mentality will never see anything prosper.

We only need a lotto winner investment and will be ok.

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Sky is ruining RL like its ruined football. Massive over hype of the top leagues to attract viewers and customers and lowers leagues are nothing

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The fans are on the way back..3890 at Featherstone tonight;

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