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  1. I'd agree with much of this and the frustrating part of it is that it is all very fixable. I was at an event a few weeks ago where the marketing director at a Premier League football club was taking about the challenges that they faced and how they solved them. Now, before anyone sees the phrase "Premier League football club" and starts rolling their eyes and saying RL can't do that sort of thing, there were two things about what he said that were very striking: 1. The problems they faced were very similar to the problems facing RL. They had an ageing fan base, they had a fan base concentrated in one of the poorer parts of the UK. They had an ageing stadium, empty seats and they had a culture in the marketing team that they couldn't achieve regular sell-outs. They also had an under-achieving team and were the 'second' sporting team in their particular area. All issues that many RL clubs face. 2. The solutions to a these issues were not particuarly difficult, and certainly not expensive, to implement. They did a lot of analysis of their supporter base - looking carefully at the data behind who they are, their supporting habits, what they bought and what they didn't buy, and they changed the mentality that a 'supporter' was only worthwhile to them if they bought a season ticket. They now know more about their fans than they ever did, they know when and where they are likely to 'drop off', they cater their offering to each and every supporter and they make it easy for people who don't or can't go to the games to buy into the club. The only "expense" behind this was some time spent with their CRM system. They addressed the ageing fan base issue through little more than community marketing and matchday experience. They made the players accessible to young fans and they ran community events - stuff that all RL clubs do to some extent. But they also improved the matchday experience for younger fans - made it more kid friendly, gave every new junior season ticket holder a "debut season" gift pack and held events where they could play on the pitch after the last game of the season - all fairly easy and cheap stuff to do, but something that means the world to those kids. They've gone from having just one sell-out game a year to having an 11,000+ season ticket waiting list, and they now have the youngest average season ticket holder age in the PL. Clearly, there are various other factors at play, but even if RL clubs could get the 'cheap stuff', like the stuff mentioned above, right then they and the game would be in a much better position. The problems RL faces in the modern sports market aren't particuarly unique - it's just the way in which the sport tries to fix them.
  2. Yeah.... I'm the one that waffles on. If you and Grubrats want my advice for your new club, DM me and I'll happily provide my rate card. But I'll give you my first piece of advice for free - don't start an SL club in Timbuktu.
  3. Are you suggesting that there is an endless stream of bored businessmen just waiting for an RL club to become available? And even if there is, any Bulls fan will tell you that any such queue includes your Omar Khans, Greens and Chalmers' of this world, not to mention the various idiots and shysters who have taken punts on various RL clubs. The model just isn't sustainable. The game needs to move to a point where every club can be and is self sufficient. I don't see that as a particularly controversial view. I don't know why your brought player development into this - I never raised it. The first Super League standard Canadians probably haven't even been born yet. At best, they're still in pampers. It takes time - generations in fact - to develop top level RL players. And if you think that Internet likes get me up in the morning, I'm afraid to say you're mistaken. Like you're mistaken that these two online fan polls that you keep referring to are in any way credible or relevant.
  4. Which is a dumb execution of the idea. Nines should be the thing replacing loop fixtures but, you know, that'd require vision.
  5. Which is a dumb execution of the idea. Nines should be the thing replacing loop fixtures but, you know, that'd require vision.
  6. That's how I see it too. I mentioned it on the other thread, but this strikes me as 'Rugby League for the Instagram and YouTube generation'. 80 mins of two packs going at it might appeal to the purists, but they're a dying breed. There's a reason why football fans ger 'Messi' or 'Ronaldo' on their shirts and it's becasue those players dominate the highlight reels.
  7. I think the point of nines is that is appeals to a different audience. The YouTube / Instagram generation might not be interested watching two packs batter each other for 80 minutes, but could be interested in the tricks and flicks that the flair players have room to show off. This isn't (or shouldn't) be about tapping the same well. With that in mind, I do hope that SL think carefully about the venue and try and tap into younger audiences. Don't play it safe at a heartland RL venue. Also, nines is discernibly different to the usual RL product for your current fan. Team A vs Team B in the Challenge Cup is not different enough to the three or four editions of the same fixture in the regular Super League. Nines very much is. One would hope that would be a point of difference that would encourage enough of the usual fan base to dust the cobwebs off their wallet.
  8. Which is fine if what you want is to maintain the status quo, but I think it's fair that people want to challenge that and suggest that we can do better. What you call "dreaming", I call ambition. There are poor or no returns in RL because the game is structured that way. It's a sport that is structured to minimise cost and risk to a handful of individuals, a sport that is set up to exploit the playing talent as much as possible, a sport that relies too heavily on matchday income, that relies too heavily on a diminishing and not particuarly affluent audience, a sport that doesn't generate enough from commercial income or broadcasting. If you want to persist that RL is a game that does and should continue to rely on the benevolance of local businessmen, that's fine. The game will continue on its current trajectory of lower participation, declining crowds, less relevancy and less financial stability, but you'll be getting what you seem to want. But it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. RL relies on these people because it doesn't appeal to outsiders who could, in the right circumstances, see an investment in RL as worthwhile. It's also a status quo that comes with inherent risk. When the likes of Davy, Fulton, Beaumont and Hudgell are no longer willing or able to keep underwriting the losses, where is the next investor coming from to take over the reigns? The situation at Bradford should act as a warning that relying on the next "local businessman looking for a hobby" is pretty damn risky - there are only so many of them, and not all of them are desirable. I will argue with anyone that expansion, particuarly in North America, comes with risks. But I will also argue that the risks of not looking to change, progress and expand are far, far greater.
  9. You know what, fair point - that was too far. Consider it withdrawn. But equally, I don't think that anything there is "David Brent genitals". Sometimes things don't have a simple explanation because they aren't simple. This is one of them. RL has a lot of complex issues - despite what a lot might like to think, they aren't easy to explain and neither are the solutions.
  10. So we're agreed that the old licencing system encouraged wrong behaviour. Just because the criteria in that system was flawed, it doesn't make all licencing systems flawed, which is rhe suggestion I was responding to.
  11. Which parts are you struggling with? Do you need me to write it in crayon?
  12. Let's start with an easy one.... There was a KPI in the old licensing system that was based on clubs getting an average gate of (IIRC) 10,000. Most clubs weren't achieving that and the way they responded, instead of going out and finding new audiences and thinking about how they market themselves, was to cut ticket prices dramatically across the board. Wakefield did it, Bradford did it and Huddersfield are still doing it. It meant that they cut their profit margin massively, giving discounts to people who would have paid full price, in the hope that enough people would be tempted by the bargain basement prices. It didn't work. The clubs devalued their product, didn't sell the added volume to make up the lost margin and in the case of Wakefield and Bradford, hit the financial buffers. The criteria of "average gates of 10k" encouraged the wrong behaviour - it encouraged discounting and under-selling of the sport from which, in many cases, it still hasn't recovered. The criteria should have been a ticket revenue target. Its more meaningful, less easily manipulated and encourages more strategic thinking. Simple enough for you?
  13. I'll do one and three first.... 1 - You understand that "expansionists" aren't one big homogenous group, don't you? There are different ways to approach the issue of how we grow the sport, and there are many different forms of expansion. The "pin in map" approach is a non starter when clubs are private entities - current owners want their clubs where they are, and new owners will decide where their clubs are based. 3 - As above - there is not "one approach to rule them all" when it comes to licencing. The old system measured the wrong things, encouraged the wrong behaviour and didn't measure other key elements. That's what any new licencing system should address. Just because a handful of clubs made a pigs ear of it during licencing last time, it does not mean that licensing in any form is wrong. As for point two.... Adam Pearson touched on this issue in a recent interview. The sport struggles to attract people into the sport because the investments that they are encouraged to make are so limited (the system is structured so that no one team can run too far ahead) and returns on investment are so low (if they even exist at all). The system is structured like that because the current cohort of chairmen / owners are focused more on limiting their cost base and mitigating risk, rather than growing their clubs through increased ticket and merchandising revenue, increased commercial revenue and increased investment in digital. How do we address that? By doing a number of things. Firstly, I'd tackle the hostile culture that the "RL family" has to outsiders - it's frankly embarassing. I'd restructure the competition to encourage and reward those clubs that can grow, rather than keep clubs running at the pace of the slowest man, and I would try and ensure that the competition reflects the unique circumstances that certain clubs face. It's ridiculous that a club in London operates at the same cap as a club in West Yorkshire when the cost of living is so drastically different. But above all else, the sport needs to increase (what us marketing tossers call) its 'market penetration'. The sport doesn't lack penetration because it doesn't advertise enough or because there aren't enough posters around during Magic Weekend. The sport lacks penetration because it's almost invisible and extremely difficult to engage with to all but a small part of northern England. This isn't a problem the sport can advertise its way out of. The clubs and the sport can do more but, to really make a difference, expansion has to play a role and to do that, we have to encourage outside investment.
  14. Neither Super League nor the RFL have that power. The clubs are private entities. This isn't about 'pin in map' expansion. However, it doesn't change the fact that, as it stands, it's very hard for most of the UK to 'buy into' RL even if they wanted to. The emphasis should be about encouraging an environment where RL clubs can be an attractive investment not only for the people already in the game, but for people coming into the game from the outside. Personally, I believe licencing is the best way to do that but I know that's not a universally popular opinion. SL should be imposing high standards, measuring the right criteria, and encouraging growth. If enough clubs reach those standards, that's good for the entire league.
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