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  1. Rugby League thinking in a nutshell. The justification for loop fixtures is that the clubs need to get more value out of (already under-paid) players and an existing fan base. There's no discussion about how we add value to the product to grow the fan base. The whole justification for a bigger TV deal seems to be "because we want it", with little discussion (publicly at least) about what we can offer a broadcaster. Everything seems to be about extracting as much value as we can until the teet runs dry. Where is the talk about how we actually create something above and beyond what we already offer?
  2. I think this is the key issue. We're going into new markets or markets where we have limited cut-through with the audience, asking broadcasters to take a bit of a punt and, unsuprisingly, they aren't enthusiastic. SLE has to make the product easy to buy. Not just for broadcasters, but for anyone. If it can create an international feed (in the same way that PRO14 Rugby does for example), prove the concept and appetite for the content amongst the types of audiences that broadcasters want and fit that to broadcast demands, then the product is easy to buy. At the moment, we're offering broadcasters very little value - that is very much Elstone's remit.
  3. The problem with the "planned strategy" argument is that it requires centralised thinking and, ultimately, centralised financing. Once you start doing that, you open up the "why isn't that money being spent on the heartlands?" and "what about concentrating on Cumbria?" can of worms all over again. It's incredibly hard to have a "planned strategy" when so many people see it as the RFL / SLE taking other people's lunch. Anything the game's governence spends outside the heartlands is money that it isn't being spent in the heartlands and that breeds resentment - even if it's well proven that central funding in the heartlands develops a poor return. The amount of central funding that has been spent on little more than keeping the lights on at clubs that have only gone backwards year after year is a sad indictment of the small-minded thinking in the sport. So you're then reliant on private investment and the thing with private investors is that they want to do it on their terms. If David Argyle wants to invest in RL and wants to do it in Toronto, no amount of pointing at a "planned strategy" is going to change that. He either invests on his terms, and the game accomodates it, or he doesn't invest at all. The fact that the RFL thinks that London, Coventry or Toulouse are part of its strategy is irrelevant. If the sport and all of its stakeholders (governence, owners, fans and investors) can have a mature conversation where it is decided that central funding and support is given to clubs X, Y and Z because those clubs, towns or cities are judged to be of strategic importance to the sport and because the business case stacks up, then that would be the ideal scenario. But we will never, ever have this conversation because club tribalism will never let us.
  4. I think the cap also needs to reflect local realities as well. The average rent in Castleford is around £500 a month. The average rent in Ealing is more than that per week. Yet London Broncos only get a 10% London Weighting allowance? We're deliberately setting up expansion clubs to fail because the sport happens to be centered around some of the cheapest parts of the country from a living costs perspective. For the club owners who vote for this system, that suits them. Every expansion club is more competition that they don't want. The currently salary cap serves no actual purpose other than to limit the cost base to a small number of people - people who are only voting to reduce the value of their "directors loans" each year and forcing the players bear the cost of that. That's not how a sport should be working.
  5. The cap at the very least needs to be pegged to inflation. It's ridiculous that we've allowed clubs to impose real-terms pay cuts on the players for the best part of two decades. The 1999 cap should be over £3m today, not the £2.2m-ish that it was only very recently increased to. I've said before that personally, I'd replace the cap with an FFP-style system that is linked to a club's financial performance. We used to have the 50% of turnover rule and in truth, I'd have something similar in place: Introduce a 'soft' cap that is linked to the club's own turnover. Limit the way in which directors loans / injections are counted towards that figure, encouraging clubs to develop their business and income streams, rather than rely on owner benevolence. If a club wants to compete with their neighbours for playing talent, they need to grow the business to be able to pay for it. Either remove or introduce a much higher upper celing. In truth, that sort of system probably wouldn't benefit Toronto, but it would be a cap system that encourages clubs to develop themselves off the field, rather than just on it, and it should allow the players to reap the benefits of any growth.
  6. In fairness, this is a little bit of a myth. The original idea behind Magic Weekend was to fill hotel beds in South Wales. It wasn't even an RFL idea.
  7. Assuming Briscoe will be on the right side and can stay fit, 33/1 isn't a horrendous shout. Newman is 80/1 with Sky Bet. The only issue I see with him is where Leeds try and play Sutcliffe. Whilst it's expected that he'll be at SR, Leeds have played him at centre in their two pre-season games.
  8. That game was sold out and televised by Premier Sport if I remember rightly. Never seen anything like this for a pre-season friendly.
  9. Fantastic news. And probably worth remembering the next time we get a "Sky does nothing / doesn't care about RL". Donating their time and resources won't have come cheap.
  10. Ah, that actually rings a bell. I imagined that Leeds Met had more involvement than they might have done, but definitely remember the sale of the cricket ground leading to the new East Stand.
  11. Headingley hasn't cost the Rhinos £50m. The East Stand was, IIRC correctly, primarily funded by Leeds Met/Carnegie University. The funding for the South and shared stands has come from various funding sources, some of which from the club's own funds, but many of them that were only available because Leeds City Council were willing to support efforts to keep Test cricket in the city. The borrowing that the club / council has taken on via Legal and General is much more cost effective and lower risk than I suspect the finance for an £8m (I'll take your word that's the actual figure) purchase of Elland Road would have involved (even assuming the club could have secured such finance in the early/mid 00's). What the club have ended up with is a venue that's popular, is surrounded by amenities that improve the overall matchday experience, is relatively low-cost to maintain and generates a hell of a lot of cash. That suits me.
  12. And miss out on that sweet, sweet Test match cricket hospitality dollar? Elland Road wouldn't be the right venue for the Rhinos in my view (too big, too expensive to maintain, poor spectator comfort and the corporate facilities aren't as good as what's at Headingley) and finding land for a new stadium in North Leeds isn't going to happen. If the wealthy kick-up-a-stinks are going to object to a John Lewis opening up within ear-shot, they're not going to stay quiet about the prospect of a RL club moving in.
  13. SEO nerd checking in..... For starters, the SL or club website needs to have the right schemas written into their site code for Google to be able to read and display the information correctly. I'm going to stick my neck out here and suggest that is the first hurdle that the sport has fallen at. For a lot of other sports, the websites are all centralised (sites for NFL, NBA, MLB etc all run on the same platform, football feeds are provided by Football Data Co and most football league clubs run their websites on the same platform) so it is easy for the information to be accessed. Then, even assuming that is all in order, it comes down to whether it's worth Google's while and that will almost certainly be down to two factors - is there enough search volume, and (in some cases) is there a decent ad opportunity? The reason Google shows fixtures for something like "New York Knicks" is because a decent proportion will then go on to search "New York Knicks tickets", and advertisers like StubHub and Viagogo bid on that keyword. Bashing the phone and asking Google to include Super League fixtures and results is a waste of time if Google doesn't think the search volume is worth the dev time. It's not that other sports have been proactive in pestering Google - it's that they've been proactive in making themselves something that Google can't afford to ignore.
  14. Basically my reading of it. Beyond Luke Briscoe, we're short of clear cover for the back five over than an inexperienced Alex Sutcliffe or trying to shoe-horn Liam Sutcliffe into whatever position need filling. Evans is no world beater, but he's a cheap way of bringing experience into that backline when it's needed.
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