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RayCee

Why do RL clubs fold?

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What are the pressures that cause a club to go under? 

An excellent administrator moves on.

Not enough keen volunteers.

Lack of creative ideas to promote the club/sport.

Grass roots not nurtured enough.

They are a few I quickly came up with. 

If things are done well, there is no reason why a smaller club cannot be successful and popular within its community. They may have no hope nor ambition to be in SL, but the local support and love of the club keep it not only afloat but vibrant. In a society where individualism is increasingly preferred over community spirit, it is a challenge. Not one that has to be lost though.

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This needs to be looked at from two different angles, professional and amateur. Amateur clubs fail generally because they are in poor catchment areas. The faults of poor management are sorted by new blood on committees and coaching staff, the pro game is far more complicated and the management plays a bigger part. 

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None of the above are fundamental reasons IMO, although your third comes closest.

Instead, I give you:

- Not enough money to fund the club owner's aspirations. 

- Not enough bodies through the turnstiles.

- Poor management - especially where you get an owner who thinks because he has done OK at owning and running a modest commercial business, he will be just fine running a RL club. That does not follow at all, as too many learn to their cost - often because they refuse to listen to, and employ, people who DO know what they are doing, but who may tell the owner to butt out and leave them to get on with it.

And these are often all connected.  Your own points, especially the third, are IMO functions of these, especially my third.

Gate receipts alone can never sustain a club, as far as I can see. You need as many different income streams as possible. But most of those streams depend directly or indirectly on attendances.  The challenge for all but a handful of of clubs and for the game, is to get far more bodies through the turnstiles than they currently are - in the face of so many other competing calls on peoples' time and money.  TBH, I am not at all sure there are any easy answers, no matter how brilliant a club's administration. IMO the last guy who found a real answer was Peter Deakin, but much has moved on since then.

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Over ambitious management..

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Semi-pro and Pro - Money and an element of wider support. Otherwise known as money from an owner, money from sponsorship and enough bums on seats to add more money. Then you need to be winning/offering an attractive product to keep the money coming in. And to be really successful either someone with a bottomless pit of money or a huge tv deal to provide money.

Amateur - at least one good administrator (it takes more than you think) but far better to have a few as a range of roles need real commitment and someone is bound to step away. Enough volunteers to do the other jobs and step up to the next role when needed. Parents to bring the young ones and get engaged, others who just can’t leave and start to form the next round of coaches and administrators.

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3 minutes ago, Southern Reiver said:

Semi-pro and Pro - Money and an element of wider support. Otherwise known as money from an owner, money from sponsorship and enough bums on seats to add more money. Then you need to be winning/offering an attractive product to keep the money coming in. And to be really successful either someone with a bottomless pit of money or a huge tv deal to provide money.

Amateur - at least one good administrator (it takes more than you think) but far better to have a few as a range of roles need real commitment and someone is bound to step away. Enough volunteers to do the other jobs and step up to the next role when needed. Parents to bring the young ones and get engaged, others who just can’t leave and start to form the next round of coaches and administrators.

 

That is not why they fail, its the opposite.

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17 minutes ago, Padge said:

 

That is not why they fail, its the opposite.

Gosh too much money (Pro) and too many people committed (Amateur) must have miss that bit.

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12 minutes ago, Southern Reiver said:

Gosh too much money (Pro) and too many people committed (Amateur) must have miss that bit.

The question was why do they FOLD, not how do they succeed,.

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Obviously no idea but my guess would be ,in the top two divisions batley and leeds are the only clubs that dont rely on director loans at some point or other to get them through a season,so i would say clubs have cash flow problems and then they go pop because they start to make more mistakes to try and increase the cash flow

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30 minutes ago, jpmc said:

Obviously no idea but my guess would be ,in the top two divisions batley and leeds are the only clubs that dont rely on director loans at some point or other to get them through a season,so i would say clubs have cash flow problems and then they go pop because they start to make more mistakes to try and increase the cash flow

I had no idea that is how most clubs get by in a season. 

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Shrewd business acumen, or lack of.

I know that doesn't touch the detail of the problem, but it probably is quite a simple cure that is required.

Edited by Mister Ting

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4 minutes ago, RayCee said:

I had no idea that is how most clubs get by in a season. 

Just my opinion mucker doesnt mean its anywhere near correct.

Small example would be,in 2015 when Leigh finished bottom of the middles 8s DB promised to continue to finance a full time club regardless,other clubs that got alot more than leigh that season opted to pay off director loans rather than invest in becoming full time clubs and that ###### off a lot of superleague club owners as they were continuing to put in director loans.Its all there on video.

 

 

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2 hours ago, RayCee said:

What are the pressures that cause a club to go under? 

An excellent administrator moves on.

Not enough keen volunteers.

Lack of creative ideas to promote the club/sport.

Grass roots not nurtured enough.

They are a few I quickly came up with. 

If things are done well, there is no reason why a smaller club cannot be successful and popular within its community. They may have no hope nor ambition to be in SL, but the local support and love of the club keep it not only afloat but vibrant. In a society where individualism is increasingly preferred over community spirit, it is a challenge. Not one that has to be lost though.

Depends what you mean by ' fold ' Ray , ? 

The vast majority of clubs that started a 100 odd years ago and got through the 1 st decade of the Norther Union ( ie the start of RL as a separate sport  from Union ) are still in existence , have they financially collapsed in that time and re formed , yes many have 

So ' fold ' as in the ownership company going bust , plenty , as in ' fold ' as in dissapear , only the various expansion clubs over many decades 

So yes heartland clubs with a hundred years of history find a way to reduce their costs , find volunteers and local sponsors , and usually a benefactor who are all emotionally attached to the club to continue , those with brief histories tend not to 

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6 hours ago, GUBRATS said:

Depends what you mean by ' fold ' Ray , ? 

I was thinking of their going broke or closing down, regardless if they are saved or not. 

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11 hours ago, Padge said:

Over ambitious management..

That about sums up my view. One of the reasons for me that we had to take Murdoch's tainted shilling was that other clubs tried to keep up with Wigan, who were run by someone who understood money and (as a bookie) risk taking, instead of just leaving Wigan to get on with it and concentrating on staying solvent - like soccer clubs in Scotland that don't try to emulate Celtic and Rangers. Over ambitious management could have been the start of the Bull's troubles, people forget that the club LOST money in the Bullmania glory days (which they were).

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Ultimately its the bottom line, money. Either clubs have enough access to it through central funding, gate receipts, owners, facilities and sponsorships etc, or the don't and go bust. Whilst other factors such as on field results or location may feed into those things, ultimately money is the determinant for success. 

For me this is why the business plans of new clubs such as those from NA should be rigorously interrogated to make sure there are no gaping holes. Similarly existing clubs should be aiming to have a sound financial base - one of the things that often holds RL as a sport back is that some clubs close to the top are more hand to mouth than we would all like.

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1 hour ago, Chronicler of Chiswick said:

...Over ambitious management could have been the start of the Bull's troubles, people forget that the club LOST money in the Bullmania glory days (which they were).

Nah, can’t possibly be that. As Caisley told the people of Bradford in October 2004, they had to keep turning up in ever-increasing numbers, if they wanted to have a successful RL club. And, because they did not, the club had to start making cutbacks. 

So, there you have it. It was all the fault of the fans, AND of people who were not fans refusing to become fans. Nothing to do with management.

And definitely nothing at all to do with management over-expectations and optimism and failure to update the offering after an all-conquering year, following which a number of star players retired or moved on. And nothing either to do with signing a player on silly money, who had contractual obligations to return another club, thoroughly hacking off various remaining key players (not to mention owner of said other club) in the process. And nothing to do with spending the Odsal Settlement money far far more quickly than it was ever intended to be spent, landing Bulls 1.1 with the ongoing extra costs without most of the compensation meant to cover those costs. Oh no. 

Nothing to do with that. It was the fans wot dun for it. 

 

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23 minutes ago, scotchy1 said:

There are only two reasons clubs go pop.

1. They spend too much.

2. They bring in too little. 

Simple and basic but so very true. I was reading about the Scarborough pirates on Wikipedia and the pirates chairman was also the chairman of Scarborough football club and the reasons he gave for folding the club after 1 season was not enough people coming through the turnstiles and that the pirates ran up a debt of around £113,000.

Edited by walter sobchak
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8 minutes ago, Adeybull said:

Nah, can’t possibly be that. As Caisley told the people of Bradford in October 2004, they had to keep turning up in ever-increasing numbers, if they wanted to have a successful RL club. And, because they did not, the club had to start making cutbacks. 

So, there you have it. It was all the fault of the fans, AND of people who were not fans refusing to become fans. Nothing to do with management.

And definitely nothing at all to do with management over-expectations and optimism and failure to update the offering after an all-conquering year, following which a number of star players retired or moved on. And nothing either to do with signing a player on silly money, who had contractual obligations to return another club, thoroughly hacking off various remaining key players (not to mention owner of said other club) in the process. And nothing to do with spending the Odsal Settlement money far far more quickly than it was ever intended to be spent, landing Bulls 1.1 with the ongoing extra costs without most of the compensation meant to cover those costs. Oh no. 

Nothing to do with that. It was the fans wot dun for it. 

 

In fairness to Caisley, whilst it was a pretty stupid way of expressing it, there was sense in it.

Bradford's main costs were largely set, the upkeep and maintenance of Odsal doesnt get any cheaper if they pay the players less. A constant cutting of costs can see a constant cutting of revenue and the business spirals.

Thats obviously not meant as a defence of the mistakes various owners made but just against the idea that we should always be looking to slash costs because our game really doesnt have that high costs and the spending at the Bulls wasnt that frivilous.

Bradfords problem was the stall of Super League's growth in terms of TV funding and attendances and their break-even point which while relatively low in the wider sporting world was relatively high in RL which left them more exposed and successive owners failed to grow the business.

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Clubs, particularly new amateur clubs, can fold when the driving force or key figures move on or step aside. Many RL clubs in non-heartland areas are founded by enthusiastic RL people living away from their roots. Their drive and determination can often push the clubs quickly through the system but perhaps the support network underneath is not there. I think Aberdeen was a good example of that and in the professional ranks, look at what happened to Sheffield when Gary Hetherington moved to Leeds and left the club in the hands of erm..... forget his name now! :ph34r:

Edited by Scubby

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Whilst the lack of income and increased spending play a major role in most club's demise, the lack of volunteers or key staff to ensure all functions are fulfilled is also a major issue at smaller clubs. Like the ageing demographic on the terraces, the ageing boardroom at many clubs should cause concern. These solid local businessmen with the club in their heart get replaced by gamblers that do not understand the sport business and think that better players lead automatically to a winning side and more fans to pay for the better players (in the case of non-SL clubs add promotion)

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32 minutes ago, scotchy1 said:

In fairness to Caisley, whilst it was a pretty stupid way of expressing it, there was sense in it.

Bradford's main costs were largely set, the upkeep and maintenance of Odsal doesnt get any cheaper if they pay the players less. A constant cutting of costs can see a constant cutting of revenue and the business spirals.

Thats obviously not meant as a defence of the mistakes various owners made but just against the idea that we should always be looking to slash costs because our game really doesnt have that high costs and the spending at the Bulls wasnt that frivilous.

Bradfords problem was the stall of Super League's growth in terms of TV funding and attendances and their break-even point which while relatively low in the wider sporting world was relatively high in RL which left them more exposed and successive owners failed to grow the business.

What Caisley seemingly failed to see - and he was far from alone in the game in this - was that, once you get past the hard-core fans, most incremental support goes to matches because they want to be entertained. Once the offering starts to become a bit stale, once the team is not quite so successful, and especially once loads of new calls on people’s leisure time and money arise, you have to keep refreshing the offering just to stand still. Let alone grow. Which never happened at Bradford.

tbh, whilst Caisley did his usual with that highly-counterproductive statement in the 2003 Annual Report, yes he was dead right in that it needed growing not shrinking attendances. Where he went wrong was by stating the board had “done it’s bit” and it was now up to the people of Bradford. Wrong. Most of the incremental supporters were customers, and what business blames its customers for its failure to progress? In fact, I saw first-hand how worried Caisley was. He knew. And on one level had every sympathy. The tragedy was that, instead of carrying people with him on the mission, he instead alienated far too many. And not just in Bradford. And effectively undid much of the massive amount he had achieved over the previous decade and more.

Once cost-cutting starts, and once you have cut any fat and have to start cutting flesh and bone, it becomes a vicious circle. Could not agree more. And indeed, the decline and fall of the Bulls is very much a textbook example of that. Most fans could not understand things that happened, and decisions that were taken, especially around 2005 / 2006. They thought the club must be in rude health financially. The accounts told a very different story, and the direction of travel was all too obvious to those who can read a set of accounts. For that and other reasons, I was very concerned for the Club financially then, although I ploughed a very lonely furrow, regularly derided, when I tried to explain to others. 

What perhaps could have arrested and reversed the decline was an injection of new blood and funding. I know the club continually sought new investors. For whatever reason, nothing of significance ever materialised. Caisley, who himself stood down, coined the much-derided term “The People’s Team”, but how many folk understood why? It was meant to signify that - unlike other successful clubs of the era, Bradford had no wealthy owner.  And so depended much more on the people of the city and followers elsewhere for its continued financial security and on-field success.  When the people started to fall away, so did the club. The history books of the future will doubtless judge whose fault that was - or if, indeed, it was inevitable regardless?

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1 hour ago, scotchy1 said:

There are only two reasons clubs go pop.

1. They spend too much.

2. They bring in too little. 

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and six pence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six result misery.

Edited by westlondonfan
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