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  1. I can't see that SL offers the volume for an Amazon or Netflix - certainly not as a subscription driver. For me, the bigger issue of the next Sky deal is how digital rights are handled - we need a more modern agreement that allows SL greater control over digital content.
  2. I think replacing the salary cap with an FFP-style system is the way to go. Those clubs that can afford to spend more can do so prudently, whilst those clubs that can't but want to compete are nudged to get the business plan right to pay for that spend. I've listened to the Carney interview and I think he misses a big part of the argument. He talks about how you can justify cutting the cap because "Widnes only had £700 left", yet what he didn't talk about is what Widnes were doing to actually grow. His whole argument seemed to be based on stopping the leakage from the bottom, but not on filling the top.
  3. Not a chance when you have 'brand managers' involved. Any change to the logo, colourschemes, fonts, etc is a complete no.
  4. When a club is running at 30-40% occupancy, the problem goes far beyond how many away fans are turning up.
  5. As I acknowledged, things aren't easy in the levels below Super League and there is some merit in the thinking. But I'm not convinced that we should approach a club like York (I'll use them as an example), who are doing some very commendable stuff, and insist that they sacrifice some of their (presumably) small budget to fund a person or team of people to drag other clubs (probably kicking and screaming) along with them. York don't have a secret formula for what they're doing. I'm almost certain they don't have an enormous budget, but what they're doing seems to work for them. There's lots of best practice guidance out there for people prepared to look for it and even then, when the clubs are targeting different markets, what works for one may not work for another.
  6. I'm not, and never had, suggested away fans are a bad thing. But those Widnes fans turned up once, and probably didn't again until the next time they were playing Leigh. That £1,000 could equally have gone into local marketing to attract supporters who may have gone on to have a longer-term value to the club. Higher risk? Absolutely. Higher potential reward? I'd say so. Assuming the same cost to get a home fan and an away fan through the turnstyles, the home fan will almost always be worth more in the medium-long term. Again, I'm not suggesting for a second that the approach taken there was the wrong one - but I maintain that in the wider debate, "away fans" are given too much importance. As for the atmospheres, some the best RL atmospheres I can remember have been England internationals, WCC games, various football games across Europe (where away followings are much smaller) and NFL games in the US. I'd say the occasion contibutes far more to the event in some situations.
  7. I get the thinking behind that. Certainly at SL level, I don't think that centralising marketing to such an extent would be the way to go. It's pretty clear that different clubs are prepared to run at different speeds when it comes to marketing, prepared (or able) to invest to different levels, will have different audiences and different priorities. My club Leeds, for example, is very clearly aiming its marketing activity at premium audiences to fill those expensive seats and corporate areas. That's completely at odds with Huddersfield's "flog it off at rock bottom prices" approach. Admittedly, the levels below SL have different challenges but I think many of those issues would still be there. What you don't want is a cohort of clubs that really "buy into" a collective model and a cohort of clubs that don't - you merely end up with one set carrying (and bearing the cost for) the other set. The last thing you would want is a situation where the good work being done up in places like York is being "held back" because their budgets are being diverted into projects that support other, less-willing or less-able clubs. There's so much that doesn't actually need an awful lot in terms of specialist skills and resources. So many issues facing the game that could be addressed with simple, relatively low-budget things - basic CRM, some market research and some creative thinking - the sort of things the Warrington team discuss in this feature. I actually don't think that the issue at many clubs is a lack of skills but rather, a culture of zero-growth thinking that comes from higher up the club hierachy.
  8. The simple fact is that they should be pushed to as wide an audience as possible, but the level of influence that "away fans" seems to have in debates around crowds and expansion is way over the top. There are two Super League clubs that will clearly bring small away followings. Clubs will also have years and years of data on the historical crowds and away followings of each and every club. It should be obvious where away followings will be high and where they will be low. I'd rather my club focused on using that data to attract locals that are much more valuable and bring in much more ££s over the long term. To not use that data to run tactical initiatives designed to fill the 'away end' with locals is where the excuses around lower crowds and the arguments against expansion become feeble. Thankfully, Warrington seem to have the right attitude on that. Atmosphere is intangible. Some of the best atmospheres I have experienced both in the UK and abroad have been at games where the away fan presence is minimal.
  9. But as a section of the support base, they are the least valuable to each respective club. Someone who goes to every away ground is worth £20-or-so a year to each club (considering that most clubs outsource many ancillary revenue streams such as concession stands). A local is potentially worth far, far more. Nobody is saying "away fans are bad" or that they should be discouraged, but they lack of them is not, in my view, a valid excuse for a poor crowd. It's lazy, zero-growth thinking. Clubs know which teams bring low away followings - those games are ample opportunity to push themselves to locals.
  10. Absolutely, along with comments about away followings. They really are the most pathetic excuses going. There are people out there looking for something to do on Thursday nights. Go out and find them, speak to them and give them something they want.
  11. I don't think I am out of line. I don't question his enthusiasm for the game. I question whether he is appropriate for trying to connect with the sort of audiences the sport should be trying to connect with. Forgive me for not thinking that "Bantz with Wazzer" is the sort of thing this sport should be associating itself too closely with.
  12. I certainly think / hope that it can be restored. if not to its former glories, new glories. So many of the problems facing the CC are entirely of the game's own making and they are, in my view, fixable. It starts by making sure that the final isn't just seen as a game between "two northern teams". I hate the whole "rugby league's big day out" strapline, as if a trip to London is some sort of special one-off treat every year. I realise that isn't necessarily an RFL strapline, but they don't exactly challenge it. Your point about the traditional fans having enough choices to spend their money on is a fair one, but that is another example of needing to adapt to new market realities. The traditional fan base isn't enough to grow the game anyway - why not make the CC Final something that breaks the mould and does something daring to attract new sets of eyeballs? RL is, first and foremost, an entertainment product and the CC Final is an entertainment event - if it entertains people, they'll buy it. But what's our idea of pre-match entertainment? That boorish oik from Rugby AM MC'ing a fan park, 20 minutes of an X Factor quarter finalist and Abide with Me. By all means respect tradition, but modernise and move with the times. You can make the CC Final something exciting. You can make it something that entertains people and something that people want to buy. You don't do it by putting barriers to entry on teams - particuarly ones that offer you one of the world's biggest stars.
  13. This isn't an issue of just turning on a channel to find new fans - it's about the entire positioning of the Challenge Cup. The rot didn't start with Catalans in 2018 - the RFL has mismanaged that positioning for years and instead of fixing it, it's putting the risk burden onto the clubs. Yes, some clubs will always be a bigger draw but at the same time, the onus is on the RFL to mitigate the risk of smaller / overseas teams being involved by making it something people want to buy. The cup needs an entire rebrand. New and casual fans don't care about the history or tradition. Regular fans know that Groupon deals are never far away. The whole match day experience is dated and tired. In the age of Instagram, the event lacks FOMO. This is simple 4Ps stuff but if you focus on that, you will start the long process to return the event to its former glory. Keep putting the burden on the clubs, and you just keep adding sticking plasters to a gushing wound.
  14. I'm not sure it does address the key issue - that this is an RFL event and the onus is on the RFL to sell it. Simply shrugging our shoulders and saying "well the RFL is rubbish at marketing anyway" or trying to put the burden on the clubs is really letting them off the hook. The product has changed, the market has changed and there are people at Red Hall who are paid (some very handsomely) to solve this very issue. To suggest that it is the clubs' issue to fix, be it through bonds or through minimum ticket purchase requirements, really is passing the buck. Yes, bring the clubs with you and encourage integrated thinking, but the risk has to be borne by the entity that is reaping the reward.
  15. Whilst that maybe the case, this is the modern reality of what the RFL has to work with. The product has developed to a point where at least one overseas team has a credible chance of being involved, and that is what they are tasked with selling. The onus is on them to adapt to that. To put the risk burden on only certain clubs is, in my view, an unforgivable dereliction of duty to the event and to the sport. The RFL has seen both the market and the product change around them, and they still persist with using the same tactics, aimed at the same people. Only this time, they're looking at the diminishing returns and deciding somebody else should pay for them. The the RFL wants to accept overseas teams into the competition, and to ride the wave of publicity that they bring (as the Catalans did in 2018), they should also accept the risks that come with it. Above all else, this is an issue of fairness and integrity. If one club is asked to pay, so should every other.
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