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Toby Chopra

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Everything posted by Toby Chopra

  1. There may or may not be potential for a professional rugby team in the City of Manchester, I don't think we know the answer to that yet. But the crowds at barely-pro, small town historic clubs like Rochdale and Swinton don't tell us anything. Those clubs do not market at, nor are attractive to, potential new fans living in Manchester. If you live in Chorlton, Moss Side, or Levenshulme, or in one of the hundreds of new build flats going up in the centre, and you catch some Superleague on Sky, and you think you'd like to give a match a go, you don't think of heading to see Oldham. You're basically talking Wigan, or at a push trekking out to Warrington, and thats enough effort to put most people off. The question is, would a Manchester branded side, playing in the city, fully pro, and playing at the level of, and with the marketing effort of, the Toronto Wolfpack, attract interest? I don't know. But I think it's the only model that could potentially work. Top down, not bottom up.
  2. To be honest, it's the covering of production costs for 28 games that's the really valuable input. That cost runs into the millions for full TV quality coverage. (ie. not just 2 camera Internet quality that we have recently started to have) It would let Sky have an extra game every Saturday for next to nothing, which indirectly enhances the value of the domestic contract. But Catalans and Superleague need to get an alternative fast, because if additional French TV games aren't provided, then Catalans participation starts to come into question.
  3. Well done Eagles, look forward to seeing you on CCF day, hope the club can use it to kick on.
  4. Different style and tone, but I think Dave Woods and Mark Chapman do a great job. When they cover a great match for the BBC, the real enjoyment they experience is palpable. And I think they connect better with the wider audience than Stevo's enthusiastic but sometimes nonsensical ramblings. Bodes well for getting the most out of the World Cup
  5. There's not an unlimited number of places though. Whether it's 14, 16 or 18, there's always going to be a club left out, and unfortunately for London, there's does seem to be quite a long list of clubs, both from heartland and other expansion areas, that look able to generate more value from a SL spot than London can.
  6. Indeed they do, but they'd be doing even worse outside of it. Of course, that's not a reason to guarentee them a place, but it's just a fact that wherever they are at now would still be better than if locked out for 5 years. These debates always come down to the same question: how do we choose 12-ish clubs for the top flight when there's no more than about 7 clubs (at best) who can make the most of the place. As I say, I think a type of licencing is probably the answer, and there are probably clubs outside SL who could have a better shot at building something than some of those currently in. But it's not clear cut and there are profound risks to those left out.
  7. I'm broadly in favour of licensing of some sort - I tend to think the pluses outweigh the minuses for the game overall - but we should be transparent about the downsides: how would 5 years stuck in the championship give Leigh the opportunity to do anything, particularly on the business side? Crowds and interest would be decimated. Clubs outside the top flight would become souped-up community clubs. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing because for many of them that offers a more stable long-term future. But for those on the cusp, the longer they are locked out from the top flight, the further away they will be from building a business that could survive in Superleague. In the UK at least, you can't build a Superleague club outside Superleague.
  8. I agree with this analysis I'm just not sure that the Championship is the best FTA content to drive wider interest in the sport. I think people are getting carried away with the idea that the Championship could develop into some sort of equivalent rival to superleague - it's miles off that and there's no scenario where even a majority of the clubs could go full time. And most wouldn't want to anyway. We need to find a way to showcase our best. Cricket has found a way to do that with 'The Hundred' having some FTA broadcasts from next year while the England team will remain behind the paywall. For us, the England team will always be FTA, but we need more content than that. If we can't come to a deal with Sky to have some SL games on FTA without a massive hit to the money, then I've been starting to think about whether we can do something with the Challenge Cup. Obviously this is already FTA but the old competition has seen better days and the sporadic, short notice and random nature of the fixtures doesn't help drive it's profile with the wider public. How about if the last 16 - with the top 8 in SL guarenteed a place - was a group stage with a set fixture list followed straight away by the semis and final. A six week block in high summer on FTA TV, just like the IPL or Hundred. We can promote it, build it up with much more certainty, put all our efforts into showcaseing our best in a narrow window, rather than over months and months, and then when it's done, switch back to Sky for the climax of the SL season. Basically we don't have to sell ourselves all year round - only football can sustain that - just really go for it in focussed periods like with the Six Nations or Hundred.
  9. It's perfectly normal for PE to install new management and set a new strategic direction for a company, and conclude new contracts etc. It's literally what they're good at and is easily done in a minor sport (sorry) like RL. What they would need though, is majority control to achieve the gains they are targeting. I suspect the clubs and the RFL would baulk at that.
  10. I'll have a go! Basically it all boils down to the fact that (British) rugby league is massively undervalued and rugby union is overvalued. Countless times on here we have all bemoaned how skint we are as a sport, lacking the funds for even basic types of investment that we know will make a difference but we just don't have the cash. Equally, how often have we complained about the amateurish incompetence of the RFL and the selfish short sightedness of the club owners, all pulling in different directions, meaning no progress ever gets made. A unified takeover of the top tier could, in theory, solve all of this, providing the funds, professional skills, and unity of purpose that could see the game approach its potential. We're so far off that now the upside is potentially limitless - which is where the PE gets to make its profit, even while the sport itself also gains. A win-win. Rugby union on the other hand has had all of that and more - money, professional administration, a strong governing body, and it still can't crack the true big time, it remains stuck in its (admittedly well off) comfort zone. Heck just 4 years ago it made 10s of millions from a home world cup, wall to wall coverage, massive corporate exercise, and you know what, it barely moved the dial as far as penetrating the mass market. It's topped out, the only way is down, which is why PE would be far better spending their money on league.
  11. For French players, both of those visas involve more red tape, cost, English proficiency standards and limits on family members than they face now. There's also restrictions on what sort of secondary jobs they can take - bar work or site work not necessarily allowed if main sponsor is sports club. As I say, top players will still come and some younger ones will be worth the effort, but there will be others who no longer come over. Arguably it opens up a space for English players so no loss to the local game in the short run, but I think it's in our interest to help build the game in France. It's in our interest for links between the French game and English to get stronger, not weaker. This will be a step backwards for that.
  12. Well, as I said, we don't know what the post Brexit set up will be yet, it could range from virtually identical to the free movement we have now, all the way to strict minimum income requirements linked to government-identified labour shortages with lengthy and expensive application processes. We just don't know. But the closer it is to the latter the more complicated and restricted it will be for French players to have the stints in UK they have know, which is so helpful for their rugby league education before they reach the top level. Established French internationals, like the PNG and Pasifika players we see, shouldn't have a problem as on the whole that's usually the standard that work permit applications for all sports set.
  13. Yes, in principle they will. Anyone know roughly how many used that route? Presumably all the ones that played for Italy probably did.
  14. Obviously there's a load of unknowns about what sort of deals get done with EU and other countries after Brexit, but on the face of it, the country that will suffer most is France. Young French players will no longer automatically be able to sign up for stints at Pro or semi pro UK clubs, or work in UK while playing amateur. This will stiffle the development of the French game, which is a shame. Catalans and Toulouse will also have to look closely at things becasue at the moment their participation involves no extra paperwork or red tape. Brexit will make no difference to the import of Aussies or Kiwis becasue the UK already has full control over work permits for visitors from there. Indeed if you listen to the suggestions of some of our leaders who are keen for trade deals with those countries, it'll probably end up easier for their players to work here as such access is always part of trade talks.
  15. No one forces the clubs to play on Friday, they still choose to despite the SKY game because they make more money than playing on a Sunday afternoon. Banning it would make the game poorer.
  16. It would barely make any difference to the TV viewing figures - 20k at best - so it's not really an issue.
  17. But those players won't be there on a part time budget, and there's no likelyhood of them coming in without either the chairman opening his wallet or an outside investor coming in. Those in the know on here suggest both are unlikely, and in the absence of that, the idea that York will "organically grow" in the championship in a big enough way to transition to full time isn't realistic. Show me a club that's gone from attendance in the hundreds to SL fringe status without outside investment. It just doesn't work like that. If you get the chance of SL, grab it with both hands!
  18. But what would/could change over the next 3 years? The premise of this thread is that York managed to get promoted even with this commendable financial restraint - surely that's the perfect outcome? I'm really struggling to see what practically could change during another 2 or 3 years knocking around the championship. We'll only find out how big RL can be I. York when they're in SL. London may well go straight back down this year, but they'd have been crazy to turn SL down, they've received publicity and interest this year they'd simply never have got in the Championship.
  19. Genuine question: what difference would another 3 years in the championship make? As a part time club, York would have to completely overhaul their roster on promotion anyway, so not sure what another few years would achieve. Only reason I would hold back is if the new stadium wasn't t ready or a significant outside investor was willing to fund a FT team in the championship like David Hughes.
  20. I'm not sure we'd get quite that schedule. The first four you list are likely to be the second tier of seeds, so we'd only play at best two of them - one in the groups, one in the quarter final. It would be more like: Samoa, Jamaica, Russia in the group, followed by Fiji, NZ, Oz in the knockout. And that's OK for England, as I said, I think we can promote any of those games to the wider TV audience successfully. However, Aussie vs Ireland or NZ vs Cooks aren't necessarily games we want to put in front of primetime terrestrial audiences, but I think that can probably be avoided. I'm now more upbeat than I was earlier in the thread!
  21. Yeah I'd agree with most of that as regards ticket sales in particular locations. I suppose what I'm thinking about more specifically is how this all works on TV, where we will get a rare opportunity to reach out to a much wider than normal audience. I'm hoping we're going to get Saturday and Sunday afternoon slots on BBC 1 - two windows a week where we get to show the best we've got to the whole country. England will have one, perhaps Aus/NZ and Tonga will share the other. We have to provide games that maximise our opportunity here. I'm kind of in two minds, especially when reflecting on our conversation about the women's world cup. I think we can probably promote any England game successfully to a wider, non-RL TV audience. As long as RFL/BBC do the hard work on getting the players' personal stories and sporting narratives out there, and they've shown they can when they try, then it probably doesn't matter if England's group games are comfortably won against mid and lower tier opponents. It might even help to attract viewership, (English) people like to see any England team smashing it. I'm just not sure this transfers to the rest of the tournament, where I think we want to be able to show games between teams that are a/ potential tournament winners and b/competitive. I think we'd have to ensure that the best possible/most even match ups that the other big 4 teams have in their groups are given the prime time slots, over successive weekends. Careful scheduling needed but I think it can be done.
  22. So would I, but I'd be concerned about the tournament's impact with the wider public where that was the best game on offer in the first 3 weeks. Lots of interesting match-ups for the connoisseurs, but no blockbusters to reach out more widely with. Without supergroups, the best match ups in the first half of the tournament would - at best - be Tonga v Samoa, Australia vs PNG, NZ vs Fiji and England vs France. Other than the first, there's a fair chance that all will still be quite one-sided. I fear that without at least a couple of games between the big 4 in the group stage, we'll struggle to catch the general public's interest in the tournament, and it'll be too late by the time the quarter finals arrive. Other sports have the strength in depth to ensure good match ups in the group stages. We're not quite there yet so I'd be inclined to have two super groups so we at least have a major fixture on the first and second weeks to focus attention on. Perhaps I'm wrong, maybe 3 convincing try-laden wins from England in the group stage would be good visual material to push on social media, and we can try and build up the Aussies as the evil enemy on the other side of the draw doing the same thing. We'll see.
  23. I still don't understand why TWP isn't covering the game for Canadian broadcast. As I understood it, TWP were paying Sky for coverage, not the other way round, so why does Sky not wanting the match justify cancelling coverage entirely? Don't they have Canadian viewers who need it? Bit worrying if they don't.
  24. Yes, but it doesn't matter if those grounds hold 8,000 or 18,000, it's the effect of the crowd on TV that matters. Even if 20,000 are locked out, that makes no discernable impact on TV viewing figures, they're completely different categories. So where I disagree with you is your point that TV audiences are pushed up by people not being able to get a ticket. Such marginal differences are irrelevant to broadcasters. I'd agree with you if you could show that showing games on TV was causing grounds to be empty and soulless, but that's *mostly* always caused by lack of interest in the product itself, not the fact that it's on TV. Yes, there comes a point where RL would hit diminishing returns on that, but we're not there yet. It's not a zero sum game. Done right, you can get broadcasters paying more money for more games AND raise attendances. There are plenty of sports teams around the world whose games are shown live on TV every week and still sell out. It can be done, and I want RL to be ambitious and aim for that scenario, not end up in managed decline which will only end up in one place.
  25. What I mean is, some of the Sky games come across brilliantly on TV, high skill, hell for leather battles from the off, in front of passionate crowds in atmospheric stadiums. Usually it's the big derbies or the top of table clashes like last night's that do it. It presents a product that people will want to experience in person, and be part of the story. Other games shown come across as lacking and don't encourage anyone to attend, not from the immediate locality, let alone from further afield. First, we need to make sure more of the games we already show meet the best standard, and then we should be showing at least one more game a weekend, as ultimately inventory is what will drive broadcaster interest. 3.5 games out of 6 per weekend would be fine, if the quality was consistent. Consider it another way. Next year, cricket will return to terrestrial TV for the first time in years when The Hundred starts. Effectively that's a load more televised games for the many millions who don't have Sky. Do the cricket authorities fear this will have a negative affect on atrendances? On the contrary, they are doing it to drive spectator interest in their new tournament, which they are pouring millions into to design and market effectively. Get the product design, brand and story narrivtives right, and TV can drive any sport to new heights. Sometimes we do this well, other times we still expect the 80 minutes of play to carry it all. I actually think the BBC does a pretty good job at that sort of thing for us, it just doesn't have anywhere near enough RL inventory to get properly stuck in. No annual home internationals are a massive missing, and the CC is too erratic a competition to really work things, although they did fantistic stuff for Catalans in the final last year. What would be a game changer would be for that third weekly televised SL game that I want to add to be on terrestrial. A SL game a week on BBC or Itv on Saturday afternoon would be transformative and would drive attendances IF it was of consistent quality and the broadcaster did the sort of background 'narrative' work that BBC do for our internationals on a weekly basis. As we all know, there's a potential huge financial issue with Sky losing exclusivity, and I don't have an answer to that, we aren't rich enough as a sport to take the risk. But if we had 12 David Argyles who could make up the shortfall for a couple of years, I believe it could really have a positive financial benefit for TV and crowds in the long run.
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