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Scubby

Is there any way a split season formula can successfully survive?

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Posted (edited)

So I am not talking about P&R here or what happens with Toulouse or Bradford or whatever.

My question is can the current format of a break in the season (e.g. July) when divisions split (and another set of weekly fixtures is drawn up) survive? Across all the 3 divisions I keep hearing complaint after complaint about who has home games when, who has to go where twice, pointless shield competitions and short notice games. A podcast I listened to today called the Shields made up trophies.

Initially I thought it was just a SL problem but the Championship Shield fixtures were delayed and only confirmed a few days ago. League 1 clubs saying they aren't getting a fair crack at promotion etc. with some teams not playing a club at home but going twice away.

Regardless of what is put in its place can the game ever achieve any significant growth trying to devise a secondary fixture list two thirds of the way through a season? It seems to go against any growth formula that I can think of (in any capacity). This doesn't include the fact that over half the players in the RFL pyramid have full time jobs.

Edited by Scubby

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The shields do feel meaningless and just fillers till the end of the season what we do about that I don't know, could it be replaced with a combination of both shields and make it a knock out comp? Would that grab more teams attention as everybody would be starting from a clean slate, and have some sort of chance of winning something after what would have been a disappointing season?

The only 8s that definitely grab a bit of enthusiasm / drama are the qualifiers. 

The Super 8s this season also seem worthwhile as 2nd-4th is up for grabs for plenty of clubs, something that didn't really happen before  

 

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5 minutes ago, Spidey said:

The shields do feel meaningless and just fillers till the end of the season what we do about that I don't know, could it be replaced with a combination of both shields and make it a knock out comp? Would that grab more teams attention as everybody would be starting from a clean slate, and have some sort of chance of winning something after what would have been a disappointing season?

The only 8s that definitely grab a bit of enthusiasm / drama are the qualifiers. 

The Super 8s this season also seem worthwhile as 2nd-4th is up for grabs for plenty of clubs, something that didn't really happen before  

 

Agree with some of that. However, my question is really should we have any formula whatsoever that grinds to a halt two thirds of the way through the season, has some bods sat around "Fixture Maker V7" and then tries to implement them across 3 divisions few days later?

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I think the main issue is the Champ shield and below. I doubt much will help SL crowds during the summer so blaming the 8s is a false economy imo (unless anyone has figures of summer fixtures that suggest otherwise?). The qualifiers are genuinely interesting as a comp and the top 8s are still great.

Championship shield is only really relevant to the clubs at risk of relegation. Part of me thinks well if you're not in the top 4 but safe from the drop then thats just where you deserve to be really - playing for nothing? Gives the clubs and players a bit of extra money from hosting some fixtures too? Clubs like Batley and Toulouse that missed out on the top 4 thats life? FWIW the delay in fixtures was to give Swinton time to gather funds to complete the season, rather than systematic or RFL incompetence.

As for L1, I'd have either larger conferences with semis and a final, or a 30 game regular h/a season with semis and a final. With the current mood in the game around the number of games players play I doubt the latter will go through. The final option is sticking with the current formula.

 

 

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A better way for League 1 would be to plan all the fixtures in advance, basing the second phase on the previous year's standings with the relegated Championship clubs in the places of the promoted ones.  Divide the league into two groups of 8 with those clubs which finished in odd-numbered positions (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15) in one group and those which finished in even-numbered positions (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 ans 16) in the other.  Each club then plays the other clubs in its group a second time in the second phase of the season and that way the whole schedule can be published in advance.

Hardly rocket science is it?

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The 8s is a very good system. I daresay if football had our system people would love it.

The Super 8/Middle 8 system adds real drama, intensity and jeopardy. As I type the eighth placed SL side isn't out of it and has all to play for tonight.

No one is fooled that the shields are plate comps for the losers but at least they prolong interest and have an element of jeopardy (at least for the Champ shield).

I've heard the arguments about the short notice fixture list but surely that would happen under any play-off system.

Ultimately if everyone wants to change everything every five minutes searching for a utopian solution nothing is ever going to bed in.

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Planning for the first 2nd set round of fixtures is not helped. At the Leeds v Wigan first super'8s game the hospitality was about a 1/4 full compared to the normal job packed Wigan game.  Thus Leeds will not make anywhere near what the normal round game achieved.

Just using that as an example a system needs to allow a reasonably chance of selling games, including the much needed commercial income.

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4 minutes ago, redjonn said:

Planning for the first 2nd set round of fixtures is not helped. At the Leeds v Wigan first super'8s game the hospitality was about a 1/4 full compared to the normal job packed Wigan game.  Thus Leeds will not make anywhere near what the normal round game achieved.

Just using that as an example a system needs to allow a reasonably chance of selling games, including the much needed commercial income.

Leeds & Wigan plus Widnes v Warrington were both repeat fixtures from the previous league round. That should have been avoided at the very least

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1 hour ago, Scubby said:

Agree with some of that. However, my question is really should we have any formula whatsoever that grinds to a halt two thirds of the way through the season, has some bods sat around "Fixture Maker V7" and then tries to implement them across 3 divisions few days later?

I'd prefer a straightforward structure that had roughly the same number of clubs in each division, playing each other home and away, and at the end of those fixtures, the old 'top 5' playoff system in place, the same in each division, leading to a Grand Final in each division to determine who wins the title. Grand Final winners get promoted to the higher division. Club at the bottom of each league gets relegated.

Easy to understand, easy to promote, easy for clubs to plan their whole season ahead, the best clubs win the best stuff, the worst ones don't have to insult the intelligence of the paying public by playing for consolation prizes that few people care about. Plus, regardless of which division your club finds itself in, the knowledge that the structure is identical to all the others, so no whingeing about one being fairer than the other.

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16 minutes ago, Man of Kent said:

The 8s is a very good system. I daresay if football had our system people would love it.

The Super 8/Middle 8 system adds real drama, intensity and jeopardy. As I type the eighth placed SL side isn't out of it and has all to play for tonight.

No one is fooled that the shields are plate comps for the losers but at least they prolong interest and have an element of jeopardy (at least for the Champ shield).

I've heard the arguments about the short notice fixture list but surely that would happen under any play-off system.

Ultimately if everyone wants to change everything every five minutes searching for a utopian solution nothing is ever going to bed in.

Mind you the drama of winning the LLS a couple of seasons ago (Leeds or Wigan) ago was dramatic and I don't think could have been better...

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Just now, John Drake said:

I'd prefer a straightforward structure that had roughly the same number of clubs in each division, playing each other home and away, and at the end of those fixtures, the old 'top 5' playoff system in place, the same in each division, leading to a Grand Final in each division to determine who wins the title. Grand Final winners get promoted to the higher division. Club at the bottom of each league gets relegated.

Easy to understand, easy to promote, easy for clubs to plan their whole season ahead, the best clubs win the best stuff, the worst ones don't have to insult the intelligence of the paying public by playing for consolation prizes that few people care about. Plus, regardless of which division your club finds itself in, the knowledge that the structure is identical to all the others, so no whingeing about one being fairer than the other.

I certainly agree for consistency across the divisions.

Plus the top 5 was always my preferred system with top team rewarded going straight to final.

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11 minutes ago, redjonn said:

Planning for the first 2nd set round of fixtures is not helped. At the Leeds v Wigan first super'8s game the hospitality was about a 1/4 full compared to the normal job packed Wigan game.  Thus Leeds will not make anywhere near what the normal round game achieved.

Just using that as an example a system needs to allow a reasonably chance of selling games, including the much needed commercial income.

This is exactly what I am getting at. Basically the unseen hits clubs are taking which I think is behind a lot of the gripes that they have. Leeds v Wigan V1 got 17k and full hospitaity and Leeds v Wigan V2 (at less than a couple of weeks' notice) gets 13.6k and a quarter full hospitality. 

Widnes v Warr was down 2k on V1 as was Wakefield v Leeds (-1600 V1) and Cas v Saints (-1600 V1). This does not include the hospitality hits and the logistics.

Create excitements but it does not grow the comp or sell the club's products it seems. Will clubs keep putting up with that?

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6 minutes ago, John Drake said:

I'd prefer a straightforward structure that had roughly the same number of clubs in each division, playing each other home and away, and at the end of those fixtures, the old 'top 5' playoff system in place, the same in each division, leading to a Grand Final in each division to determine who wins the title. Grand Final winners get promoted to the higher division. Club at the bottom of each league gets relegated.

Easy to understand, easy to promote, easy for clubs to plan their whole season ahead, the best clubs win the best stuff, the worst ones don't have to insult the intelligence of the paying public by playing for consolation prizes that few people care about. Plus, regardless of which division your club finds itself in, the knowledge that the structure is identical to all the others, so no whingeing about one being fairer than the other.

My thoughts exactly

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No, it doesn't work in practice. I enjoy the Qualifiers, and if Warrington end up going down that will be fair and square.

Commercially it appears to be disastrous. Grounds are half-full at best and finding out who is playing who i harder than it needs to be. This is a pathetic gripe, but my mate who follows passively asked why the league table hadn't changed for weeks - he didn't realise you had to scroll down the BBC site to find the second phase league table.

I get annoyed when I hear people refer to comps being 'pointless', because you can make a valid case that rugby league in general is pointless if you want to be negative. But if enough people are reaching that conclusion, you have to bite the bullet and say something isn't working.

I think the holes in club's budgets will spell the end of the 8s. Noone has ever told me what was wrong with 12-12-rest, one-up-one-down, top 5 playoffs and a Challenge Cup. And international rugby.

 

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4 minutes ago, Just Browny said:

No, it doesn't work in practice. I enjoy the Qualifiers, and if Warrington end up going down that will be fair and square.

Commercially it appears to be disastrous. Grounds are half-full at best and finding out who is playing who i harder than it needs to be. This is a pathetic gripe, but my mate who follows passively asked why the league table hadn't changed for weeks - he didn't realise you had to scroll down the BBC site to find the second phase league table.

I get annoyed when I hear people refer to comps being 'pointless', because you can make a valid case that rugby league in general is pointless if you want to be negative. But if enough people are reaching that conclusion, you have to bite the bullet and say something isn't working.

I think the holes in club's budgets will spell the end of the 8s. Noone has ever told me what was wrong with 12-12-rest, one-up-one-down, top 5 playoffs and a Challenge Cup. And international rugby.

 

Regarding your last paragraph. Clubs wanted more games and this structure delivered it. They may rethink that soon due to the low crowds. 

I think the only way to appease that is back to 14 teams to get 13 home games. Then stick with it for 10 years at least. No more tinkering

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I think the 8s I see too complicated for someone who dosent watch the sport week in week out to understand. The Shields are pointless, the only positives are the qualifiers and maybe the SL Super 8s. 

Id rather see less fixtures, I don't want Leeds V Cas 5 times a year. However the Scottish premier have a similar structure where they play once home and away and then split. 

As for League 1 the fixtures for that league need sorting out, why they can't play a round robin home and away I don't know

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Super 8s from a commercial perspective isn't ideal, but it only seems that 1 club a season in SL claims they lose money. Usually one of the clubs that are highly unlikely to make the 4 and thus whose crowds fall of the most. Clubs might not make as much money per game, but they still make more than playing no games. 

 

Its hard to argue that we aren't playing too many games though, and we should be looking to increase club revenues via bigger TV  and sponsorship revenues via mid-season internationals, amongst other things.

 

I do like the jeopardy of the 8s though, and the way it keeps so many teams involved. Whilst top 5s have been the best play-off format, the 8 team play off format could replicate the Super 8/ middle 8 format, with the top 8s playing off for OT, and the bottom 4 involved in a similar 8 teams playoff with the Chanpionships top 4. Teams 9 and 10 from SL and 1 and 2 from Champ only have to win 1 game against each other to end up in SL in the promotion play-off. The other teams, are relegated if they lose their 1st game in eliminator playoffs, and will be if the don't win their next against the loser of the promotion play-offs.

 

So as much if not more jeopardy than now, but much fewer games. RFL could save face by claiming it is just a tweak, but insist every minute still matters. 

 

 

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I love the Middle 8s.

The Top 8s are much of the same.

The Bottom 8s are pointless.

Would be fine with going back to 14 teams, 27 rounds and 4 play off rounds as long as you can get some kind of Qualifier play offs in those four weeks too.

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5 hours ago, Scubby said:

This is exactly what I am getting at. Basically the unseen hits clubs are taking which I think is behind a lot of the gripes that they have. Leeds v Wigan V1 got 17k and full hospitaity and Leeds v Wigan V2 (at less than a couple of weeks' notice) gets 13.6k and a quarter full hospitality. 

Widnes v Warr was down 2k on V1 as was Wakefield v Leeds (-1600 V1) and Cas v Saints (-1600 V1). This does not include the hospitality hits and the logistics.

Create excitements but it does not grow the comp or sell the club's products it seems. Will clubs keep putting up with that?

Exactly this.

I don't get the whole "every minute matters" argument from the RFL about the Super 8s.  Can't a hard fought game be an event in itself? If every game has to have something on the line, just play a new cup competition every week.

When, for example, 12th play 13th in the Premier League. It is still a good occasion, even though neither team is going to get relegated or qualify for Europe.

14 team SL
14 team Championship
12 team League One

All simple home and away with playoffs.

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Posted (edited)

The run into the top 4 is fascinating yet nobody is interested in turning up. Is it telling us that fans switch off after 23 rounds or are fatigued with 30 league games? Mess around with people's habits by not having fixtures in place and you lose them.

Only 10,600 at Wigan tonight (-2100 on Fixture 1) and only 2,800 at Salford v Cas (down -2400 on Fixture 1). Looked a disappointing crowd at St Helens too. These are crucial battles for the top 4 supposedly - the best playing the best.

Edited by Scubby

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Well I guess a lot of us just don't care.... until the actual top 4 play-off and even then not that many more care anyway... until the GF and quite a few go no matter what team.

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5 minutes ago, redjonn said:

Well I guess a lot of us just don't care.... until the actual top 4 play-off and even then not that many more care anyway... until the GF and quite a few go no matter what team.

The thing is everyone is pumped any ready to go come GF time. It will be sold out again this year - absolutely no doubt. However, there is a tangible switching off as we sleepwalk through these extra 7 weeks. Repetition and a lack of clarity on fixtures in July exacerbates the fan lethargy towards these games IMO.

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People go on holidaying July/August , so let's go back to winter 

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1 minute ago, GUBRATS said:

People go on holidaying July/August , so let's go back to winter 

Yep all those capacity T20 cricket crowds in July and August - how on earth do they get anyone to watch when every beggar is on holiday?

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12 minutes ago, Scubby said:

Yep all those capacity T20 cricket crowds in July and August - how on earth do they get anyone to watch when every beggar is on holiday?

Its the only cricket they watch all year 

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