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Keith T

Future of RL in Cumbria

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The Pandoras box that is RL in West Cumbria has been opened once again in a very public way  and for what its worth here are my thoughts on it !

 

Unquestionably  there is an appetite for Rugby League in Cumbria , the RLWC 2013 only confirmed what we alreday know to be true . However scratch the surface and you will find that the RLWC organisers to their credit, ran a very slick marketing campaign backed up by significant discounting on the match tickets. Result 7,500 attendances at both games . And yes there were 1200 at the recent NCL game between Wath brow and Egremont , paying an admission price of £3 .

 

There doesn't seem to be the same appetite to pay £15 to watch Haven  or Town in the Championship .

 

Draw you own conclusions form these facts !

 

So yes we have a problem and once again the dreaded 'M' word  is rolled out . Yes a Super League club is long overdue in this part of the world but a merger is propbaly the last part of any such plan ,I believe  for the several reasons .

 

The Minimum Standards for entry into SL require require a Stadium that just doesnt exist in the area ,Both Copeland Council  and Allerdale Council have jumped on this Particular bandwagon in recent times and failed miserably to deliver for the RL community in West Cumbria . So before we even start thinking about investment in Club Infrastuture ,Point one for the Review to consider is . where can we find the £10/£15 Million  investement for this new build?

 

So lets assume the Review can solve the Stadium issues , what level of finance and  investment would be needed to give the West  Cumbrian SL club a realistic chance of suceeding ? I am pretty sure  the combined current revenues of  Haven and Town   would be  signifiacntly below  what is  minimum turnover of a current SL club   . Once again the review will need to look at where the millions pound of additional revenue funding for the West Cumbria SL  club might come from  . BTW I am not aware of any Marwan Koukash type entrepenuer in Cumbria who might fit the bill here !

 

Once the Review has concluded and we have hopefully positive  answers to these two questions,  then and only then should  we start talking the Mechanics of making a West Cumbria SL dream a reality be that a New Club or a merger remains to be seen .

Edited by moorman

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Well I listened to what you had to say Martyn and I still don't think you have grasped it.    You said that the World Cup matches at Workington were a success and we have to look at those and ask what it was about them that drew the crowds and then replicate that.  

 

We know what brought the crowds.    Top class games with top class players, that's what brought the crowds.    Now how do you replicate that if the top clubs in your area are surviving in the bottom echelons of the game.

I think you have it completely wrong. I suspect that if you had asked most of the people who turned up to the World Cup games in Cumbria, most of them would have struggled to name more than a handful of players who were due to play.

 

What I think brought the crowds in was a tournament that had broad appeal to a majority of people in the county who are attracted by the prospect of international sport and a major international competition.

 

Given that there won't be any more World Cup games in Cumbria or anywhere else for many years, I think the lessons to be learned from that experience that have any practical application are strictly limited.

 

The Tour de France will get a lot of people watching it in Yorkshire this year, but let's not expect Yorkshire people to flock to watch club cycling events.

 

What we currently have in West Cumbria is two clubs that should be great rivals playing in a vibrant competition. That's what we have to sell to the prospective audience, and it shouldn't be beyond the capability of the clubs or the RFL to develop a strategy to achieve that objective.

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I think one look at the age profile of Workington, Whitehaven and more than likely Barrow would almost certainly highlight that the bulk of supporters at those clubs are aged 50+

 

Very few young people go to watch live rugby league in West Cumbria, and those that do were more than likely dragged to games as a youngster by the dads before they got into the habit of going themselves.

 

The marketing department did a fantastic job in promoting the World Cup, but how many more 'bums on seats' could be attracted to our local clubs now if they did any marketing at all. If you didn't buy a local paper to read the sports page you would never know any rugby games were being played locally at Workington or Whitehaven.

 

One thing is abundantly clear to me, West Cumbria does not have enough players now to supply two professional teams. There are hardly any kids playing youth rugby as they are competing with football and rugby union. This will start to cause problems in the amateur game before long as there are very few players coming into the open age ranks from the age of 16 + and will in time affect the professional clubs.

 

I think a merged team under a new name is the only way forward for West Cumbria now and play alternative games at Whitehaven and Workington until some decision can be made over a stadium.

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Martyn and keighley, I never mentioned "top class teams". I mentioned top clas "players". It was the names - Konrad Hurrell, Anthony Minichello, Peter Wallace, Danny Brough, etc, of players that we in Cumbria can only see on TV or read about in the press. That, in my experience and opinion, is what brought them to the games not the fact that it was 2 minor World Cup countries playing.


I remember when .............................

"It is impossible not to feel a twinge of sympathy for Workington Town, the fall guys this season for the Super League's determination to retain it's European dimension, in the shape of Paris. While the French have had every assistance to survive, the importance of having a flagship in a heartland area like West Cumbria has been conveniently forgotten." - Dave Hadfield - Independent 25th August 1996.

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Martyn and keighley, I never mentioned "top class teams". I mentioned top clas "players". It was the names - Konrad Hurrell, Anthony Minichello, Peter Wallace, Danny Brough, etc, of players that we in Cumbria can only see on TV or read about in the press. That, in my experience and opinion, is what brought them to the games not the fact that it was 2 minor World Cup countries playing.

With the exception of Danny Brough, who played for Scotland because of a coaching malfunction by the England leader, the rest were not top class, not when compared to Slater, Inglis, Morris, Tomkins, Johnson, the Burgi, Hall etc etc.

The fact that, nevertheless, the fans turned out in their numbers suggest an appetite for the game in Cumbria that would be whetted by just an almost top level team.

The point made about the drop off in junior teams players also needs to be addressed by this review. A rock solid RL area like this needs a helping hand at present. WC profits or investor millions must be found to resurrect the area for the game before it is lost like Manchester was.

This is much more important long term than siphoning off resources to 10 greedy SL incumbents.

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With the exception of Danny Brough, who played for Scotland because of a coaching malfunction by the England leader, the rest were not top class, not when compared to Slater, Inglis, Morris, Tomkins, Johnson, the Burgi, Hall etc etc.The fact that, nevertheless, the fans turned out in their numbers suggest an appetite for the game in Cumbria that would be whetted by just an almost top level team.The point made about the drop off in junior teams players also needs to be addressed by this review. A rock solid RL area like this needs a helping hand at present. WC profits or investor millions must be found to resurrect the area for the game before it is lost like Manchester was.This is much more important long term than siphoning off resources to 10 greedy SL incumbents.

Or siphoning them off to greedy Championship incumbents? Give it a rest, every chairman in the games looking for more money.


"Just as we had been Cathars, we were treizistes, men apart."

Jean Roque, Calendrier-revue du Racing-Club Albigeois, 1958-1959

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Martyn, there really is no comparison with the other local rivalries you mention. Those areas are densely populated and are within easy travelling distance for most people in the North West or East Yorkshire.

 

Town and Haven only really have the small coastal corridor between Egremont and Maryport, which probably has a population of less than 100,000 people. There is very little interest in RL elsewhere in the county.

 

Therefore they are both fishing in the same relatively small pool for spectators, players and sponsors. While not particularly advocating a merger, because quite frankly I think that ship has sailed, if a new single club could capture the same sponsors and players then it would be a much stronger proposition. For example, both Town and Haven have annual sponsorship deals with their main sponsors worth ~£50k per year each (Haven with Energy Coast, Town with NES) - if you could get both to sponsor a single club then you've double the income. A single club allows income to be hugely increased but costs would not grow in the same proportion because of the salary cap etc as you'd only have one squad of players and one set of backroom staff etc.

 

Also, targeting these kind of reviews at the current die-hard fans of both clubs is the wrong approach IMO. Both clubs are already down to their hardcore support base, their opinions matter very little really.

 

What the review should be doing is contacting those 6,000 or so people who turned up for the RLWC games but who do not go to watch Town or Haven and asking for their opinions. Its not the current support base of the two clubs who will determine success, but the people who currently don't watch either team. The 1,500 or so diehards of Town and Haven aren't the key to this, its the 6,000 people who don't currently watch either but clearly have an appetite for top class RL if its available to them.

 

That's a brilliant post for me and I notice many others.

 

I'd suggest the same principle applies down here, that the future of the game isn't about those who watch it but those who may watch it, if it provided them with a better standard of entertainment as the World Cup did.

 

Last year Worky and Haven were averaging 750 but that beat Batley, York, Swinton, Oldham, Rochdale, Hunslet and was close to Dewsbury and Keighley. The problem Cumbria has isn't any different to the problem the M62 has which is people less and less don't want to pay for Championship RL. The facts are there - in 1996 championship rugby attracted 1597 a game now it's 791. More than halved

 

I just hope that this isn't an "in depth review" that leads to the usual report and recommendations that basically does nothing really much.

 

As for the ship having sailed for merger, I think that was true as long as Superleague was on it's last course. Now it'd downgraded standards such that a joint Cumbria Club may not be hampered by the ground. On the  basis of the crowds we have seen in London, Salford, Wakefield, Widnes, Castleford and Huddersfield in recent times (Fartown.v.Widnes 4,270,  Cas.v.Fartown 3,222) there seems no reason a Cumbria outfit should not spread the footprint of Superleague beyond the M62 and revitalise an area that has a lot to offer in terms of Junior talent just because it may not attract 10,000 fans a game.

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I think one look at the age profile of Workington, Whitehaven and more than likely Barrow would almost certainly highlight that the bulk of supporters at those clubs are aged 50+

 

Very few young people go to watch live rugby league in West Cumbria, and those that do were more than likely dragged to games as a youngster by the dads before they got into the habit of going themselves.

 

One thing is abundantly clear to me, West Cumbria does not have enough players now to supply two professional teams. There are hardly any kids playing youth rugby as they are competing with football and rugby union. This will start to cause problems in the amateur game before long as there are very few players coming into the open age ranks from the age of 16 + and will in time affect the professional clubs.

 

I think a merged team under a new name is the only way forward for West Cumbria now and play alternative games at Whitehaven and Workington until some decision can be made over a stadium.

 

Another excellent post, but again it's not an exclusive Cumbria problem.

 

Kids aren't flocking to watch championship clubs along the M62 nor are they interested in playing except for areas where there are SL clubs.

 

Many of us have been understandably fighting the truth for many years now, because we don't want the demise of our favourite local club. But I sit here twixt Rhinos and Hawks and all the kids want to watch and play for Rhinos and a few old men still watch Hunslet.

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Or siphoning them off to greedy Championship incumbents? Give it a rest, every chairman in the games looking for more money.

You might sing another tune next season when the Broncos have to mix with the hoi polloi in the Championship. Of course every chairman is looking for more money but it should not be about individual clubs, it should be about the direction and future of the game ad the leaders seem to be moving in that direction hence this study.

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Another excellent post, but again it's not an exclusive Cumbria problem.

 

Kids aren't flocking to watch championship clubs along the M62 nor are they interested in playing except for areas where there are SL clubs.

 

Many of us have been understandably fighting the truth for many years now, because we don't want the demise of our favourite local club. But I sit here twixt Rhinos and Hawks and all the kids want to watch and play for Rhinos and a few old men still watch Hunslet.

The nadir might have been reached. So far Fev, Leigh, Doncaster, Keighley, Rochdale and Crusaders are showing increased crowd figures. I wonder why.

Hunslet are a special case since their town virtually disappeared, You, of all people, know this but you keep pushing them into the argument about Championship failure. Despite all that the only clubs to disappear have been Blackpool and Bramley but five other clubs have arisen, yea, even in Championship 1, the supposed charnel house of the game.

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You might sing another tune next season when the Broncos have to mix with the hoi polloi in the Championship. Of course every chairman is looking for more money but it should not be about individual clubs, it should be about the direction and future of the game ad the leaders seem to be moving in that direction hence this study.

You're the one who keeps banging on about 'greedy SL clubs' when the reality is every club is trying to get hold of more money.


"Just as we had been Cathars, we were treizistes, men apart."

Jean Roque, Calendrier-revue du Racing-Club Albigeois, 1958-1959

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You're the one who keeps banging on about 'greedy SL clubs' when the reality is every club is trying to get hold of more money.

The reality is that only the SL clubs want to keep it all for themselves. I don't see any Championship club chairman who want extra funding suggesting that SL clubs should be denied all funds because there is a need to fund the Championships but that is what the SL club chairman want in reverse.

Gordon Gekko is alive and well and running SL. Greed is good, let them eat cake.

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The reality is that only the SL clubs want to keep it all for themselves. I don't see any Championship club chairman who want extra funding suggesting that SL clubs should be denied all funds because there is a need to fund the Championships but that is what the SL club chairman want in reverse.

Gordon Gekko is alive and well and running SL. Greed is good, let them eat cake.

Even with the new TV contract, that includes Championship games, 90% of funding is generated by SL. It's their money.


"Just as we had been Cathars, we were treizistes, men apart."

Jean Roque, Calendrier-revue du Racing-Club Albigeois, 1958-1959

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Even with the new TV contract, that includes Championship games, 90% of funding is generated by SL. It's their money.

Surely though it would make sense for a small percentage of that money, say 5% be allocated to help grass roots development, not just Cumbria but other areas also, after all ultimately that's where all British superleague players started off


100% League 0% Union

Just because I don't know doesn't mean I don't understand

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Just to confirm the areas strength at grassroots level, the final of the National Schools U16's cup will be contested by 2 Cumbrian teams - Stainburn (Workington) and Dowdales (Dalton in Furness).


I’m not prejudiced, I hate everybody equally

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Surely though it would make sense for a small percentage of that money, say 5% be allocated to help grass roots development, not just Cumbria but other areas also, after all ultimately that's where all British superleague players started off

I agree with that entirely, we should be putting everything we can into growing the grass roots. My argument was with keighley calling SL clubs greedy for wanting the money they create. Really, he just wants SL clubs to give their money to the Championship clubs.


"Just as we had been Cathars, we were treizistes, men apart."

Jean Roque, Calendrier-revue du Racing-Club Albigeois, 1958-1959

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Just to confirm the areas strength at grassroots level, the final of the National Schools U16's cup will be contested by 2 Cumbrian teams - Stainburn (Workington) and Dowdales (Dalton in Furness).

That Dowdales side makes it to the final pretty much every year. Warrington have already raided the side though I think of the youngsters.

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This may be a total coincidence or not , but in the same week as the  RFL Review and Cumbria , today NMP and Sellafield Ltd , the bIg industrial Concern in the area are providing funding to kick start a £60 Million pound investment in a brand new Education Campus for Whitehaven .

 

http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/nuclear-industry-cash-for-study-into-single-site-campus-for-schools-1.1125912

 

It was the same NMP who were providing the bulk of the funding for the abortive Pow Beck Stadium  project which hit the buffers ahead of the RLWC.

 

If that funding is still available, and I suspect it may well be , then  it wouldnt be beyond the realms of fantasy to see that pot of money  included in the Education Campus as SL standard Sports Facilities ?

 

Or is my imagination just running out of control .?

Edited by moorman

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I agree with that entirely, we should be putting everything we can into growing the grass roots. My argument was with keighley calling SL clubs greedy for wanting the money they create. Really, he just wants SL clubs to give their money to the Championship clubs.

No man is an island and neither is any RL club. The are part of a whole and whilst SL might be the head, a head cannot survive without the rest of the body.

Taking all the resources, which might have been created by the head (brain) and starving the rest of the body will see the head die off. It's my opinion that a stand alone 10 team rump SL cannot stand alone. If they get their way we shall see whether I am correct or not.

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Surely though it would make sense for a small percentage of that money, say 5% be allocated to help grass roots development, not just Cumbria but other areas also, after all ultimately that's where all British superleague players started off

 

Indeed but 3-4 times as many start off in Superleague areas than championship areas. The number of Cumbrian lads making it in SL is relatively small. For me a Superleague club in the Cumbria area may make a big difference to the local junior scene.

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Indeed but 3-4 times as many start off in Superleague areas than championship areas.

Largely because Leeds, Bradford, Hull and Salford are massive cities whereas Whitehaven, Batley, Rochdale etc are small towns.

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That Dowdales side makes it to the final pretty much every year. Warrington have already raided the side though I think of the youngsters.

If you call 1 player being signed on at warrington as being raided then you would be correct.

the only other player signed on for a super league team is at wakefield!

the majority play for the cumbria academy already!

 

get your facts right or dont bother posting!!!

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Comparing the WC games at DP against Workington's attendance or what they may be able to achieve on the back of those games is like comparing apples and oranges. Wrongly people seem to assume that ALL the people who attended the WC games at DP were from West Cumbria. I travelled from Barrow for both games, many other people I know from the south of the county went to the games, god forbid there was even some scottish people there too and as is the case at many RL games there were shirts from the Lancs and Yorks clubs too.

 

Keith is quite right when he says that the allure of these games was top level players who you usually would not find in this neck of the woods. As Workington and Whitehaven, and of course Barrow are unlikely to attract these kind of players you will never see that kind of attendance for those clubs.

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There were plenty of Scots where I was at in the ground as well as Sean Wilson (Martin Platt from Corrie)

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