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Toby Chopra

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Everything posted by Toby Chopra

  1. I work for an international media organisation whose sports coverage is run by a bunch of union fanatics. Today, for the first time in at least the 14 years that I've been there, we published domestic UK rugby league story that wasn't about drugs or a cross code issue. All about SBW and Toronto in SL. I never thought I'd see the day. (Oh and by the way the interview was done at the Manchester City media facility. So many resources in the northwest just crying out to be linked up with)
  2. Two different points there. I'd agree that if the squad is predominantly based in the the Northwest, then there shouldn't be any automatic living costs enhancemnt like there is for, say, London. However I'd view any additional reimbursements as business costs, rather than salary. When I travel for work, my company picks up the tab, not me, including reasonable accommodation, food and drink etc. (I know technically they are 'home' games, but in reality the players are travelling for work.) As long as the additional sums can be shown to be genuinely related to travelling overseas for work, then they shouldn't count against the cap.
  3. I tend to feel it it shouldn't have to even be a question: why do we still have the distinction between pro and amateur? The game should be "open", no? Sure, different divisions and leagues could have different salary caps and other criteria for membership. But what is gained from a strict separation of pro and amateur? We should open up a gangway between the pro game and amateur game and leave it up to the clubs to decide if they want to pay their players anything.
  4. I was sceptical about the draw structure because I was sceptical about the ability of the sport to sell the tournament without a blockbuster to start with. But the organisers have exceeded every expectation and I'm delighted to have been proved wrong. Early days, but this could really be something special.
  5. Apart from Kingston Park, all the non-marquee venues are so close together I reckon they might just rotate all the teams around them, rather than having teams staying in one or two places. Depends if you think local communities want to adopt a team as their own, or see as many teams as possible. If they're going to hit their ticket targets they're going to have to sell a lot beyond the local area anyway. I also think Tonga, Aus and NZ need to be spread as widely as possible round the country.
  6. There are 3 big stadiums that need filling for non-England games: Boro, Hull and Coventry. I presume they will host the marquee games in the other groups: Aus vs Fiji, NZ vs Lebanon and Tonga vs PNG. Is there a natural tie-up for any of those?I reckon TongaPNG for Hull, the other 2 could go either way. I desperately need to see Tonga this tournament, and the Tonga/PNG is arguably the best game of the group phase.
  7. This literally isn't true. If it was, then we wouldn't be having all these arguments. The sport has been shrinking for years even in some of its traditional heartlands and its nothing to do with foreign teams. It's to do with the fact that the game here has done almost nothing since 1996 to adapt to the changing sporting, social, economic and media environment that it exists in. It's losing relevance even in its northern heartland, and that's no one's fault but its own. Now, do I think pins-on-the-map expansion is the only way to turn this around? No, of course not, we do indeed need to find ways to reinvigorate the heartlands. But without investment and new ideas, none of this will happen. Done properly, some expansion projects can provide that to the benefit of all.
  8. This is a lazy pastiche of US sports. Yes, some clubs have moved, but the vast majority haven't and never will, and are deeply rooted in their cities, and have been for a century. You might not like the sports and fan culture but millions do and it's the height of arrogance to think that rugby league - which in this country has serious existential problems - has nothing to learn from the most successful pro sports culture on the planet.
  9. This is the nub of it. If you think "existing clubs" are in competition with new ones, then any expansion is destined to fail as it's literally not in the existing clubs' interests for the new ones to succeed. We need a leap of imagination that sees the sport as a single whole, with clubs just being one of the stakeholders. The only compeption we should be worrying about is the competition for the attention of the public between Rugby League - and literally everything else. That's what the North American sports do: they view the league, even the sport, as a whole as the product. The clubs are just a way of accessing it. And if they can expand it to new markets, they'll do whatever it takes to do it.
  10. But if the aim isn't 'superleague in 5 years' (or preferably 3) then what is it? And how does that become sustainable for an overseas team? In my view it doesn't, given L1 is barely sustainable for heartland clubs running on a shoestring. For overseas expansion clubs, the aim has to be a fully pro team playing in, or close to, the top division. A part time, local players model just doesn't work for an international team. Toronto is working, but we have to learn the right lessons.
  11. This is a good point. YT would immediately multiply many times our reach, and it's now ubiquitous for many sports. Football and cricket highlights are now uploaded by rights holders very quickly. It's the go-to platform for many now. I suppose in theory the advantage of driving people towards OurLeague is that it becomes the one-stop shop of RL where clubs and governing bodies can cross sell tickets for SL and internationals, and the full range of merch. In fact there's sections for all of this on OurLeague, but as usual it's very thinly content wise, with most club product missing. <tosses grenade> I'd like to see CVC take over the running of OurLeague having bought controlling commercial rights for SL and England brands...
  12. I don't quite understand this. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't all this get worked through last year? It was a bit dicey at times but ultimately, and not least because of a surprising degree of unity among the Ch clubs, a deal was agreed that kept the SL clubs in the RFL, restored P&R and fixed a formula for how the next broadcasting contract would be shared. It's all done and dusted. Just up to the clubs to do their bit now.
  13. I'll have to challenge your assertion that money from Sky was "completley wasted". Compared to what? On what measure? It was quite conceivable that British rugby league - a sport that before Sky had just 1 fully pro team - could have shrivelled up and died in the 90s, in the face of pro union, the soccer boom and other broadcasting and economic changes. Instead it took some radical decisions and is still going - with a fully pro top tier - 25 years later. Many mistakes along the way, of course, and the future is uncertain. But we've really got to get away that there was some sort of miracle possible if we'd done something different. The miracle is that we're still going at all.
  14. I did not know that London is still a shareholder in SLE. That is... complicated to say the least.
  15. I'm not sure what bailing out is necessary, for either code. If it fails, PE takes the loss, not the sport. We're essentially broke as it is, so in my view there isn't much downside for RL. All the issues about the viability of the lower tiers and community game exist whether CVC comes in or not.
  16. I actually think that's a fair question to ask. But any analysis of the situation would tell a PE investor that a "merger" of some sorts was impossible, unnecessary and unproductive. So the question is more, does having an independent investor in all camps open the way to other sorts of cooperation that the sports themselves couldn't countenance? Does RU prem + SL + Pro14 = Rugby Channel?
  17. We've moved beyond that debate. Last year, even the Superleague clubs recognised that there was value in staying part of the larger RFL structure and providing support - both financial and via P&R - to the lower tiers. If they saw no benefit then they would have just walked away. They didn't. They just didn't want the tail to wag the dog and... er... the tail to eat more than its fair share of food. So there was a bit of a stand off, but a deal was done, agreed by all sides, on how to distribute future revenues. Now we move forward with the bit we should have been focussing on all along: how to raise those revenues in the first place. And yes, for Ch and L1 clubs that means with the TV share already sorted, they need to focus on what they can generate themselves as clubs.
  18. All they should be asking is will SL remain part of the RFL, and will P&R be maintained. Given all the battles last year over the so-called 'breakaway' still ended up with P&R and RFL oversight, then I expect that to be maintained. And that's all the Ch and L1 clubs can really ask for. All the rest is just business and running a good club, regardless of CVC or anything else.
  19. Now this paragraph of the article I didn't understand. Superleague IS the Superleague clubs. The RFL, Elstone or any other higher authority won't have any say in where this money goes. The clubs might be enlightened and mutually agree some rules for spending the money. But it will be up to them and no other.
  20. I agree. Union has topped out in my view - a home world cup in 2015 followed by England making the final in 2019 has barely moved the dial domestically. We, however, have barely scratched the surface IMO.
  21. Yes, most likely. But remember the RU deal didn't hand control of structure over to CVC, and the RFU remains in ultimate control. SL/RFL needs to make sure the same safeguards are in place. Of course, they may want to make radical changes themselves and then blame it on CVC...
  22. House prices go up. Anyone who mortgaged themselves to the hilt 20 years ago to buy a house is sitting on huge gains beyond what they borrowed. In fact that's the whole principle of businesses borrowing to invest. It boosts the value of the business. The same applies to RL (as seen by F1, and no doubt RU) How often on here have we gone round in circles saying 'if only we had the money to do x, it would kick the game on to another level' ? Well here it is. Here's the chance to get the investment that the game can't generate itself which, if we don't waste it, can pay back over and above. Increased revenues, with CVC getting a cut. They must see some potential in RL to want to invest. Shame many of our fans don't.
  23. Jeez, if a team loses more money the more games it plays it has no business being in our top league. Club in name only.
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