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Eddie Hearn 'I can change the face of Rugby League'

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23 minutes ago, deluded pom? said:

That’s nothing new. It’s being going on for years. How do you think the likes of Frank Bruno ended up as world champion? Terry Lawless always nursed his fighters to title shots. Charlie Magri was another from the Lawless stable who, for want of a better expression, achieved more than his talent warranted.

It is hardly unique to the UK, though. Foreign boxers from Primo Carneira to Sven Ottke have also been carefully nursed to world titles over the years.

And...

 

Edited by Futtocks
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Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. (Susan Ertz)

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Well that was an interesting read... Here's my tuppence worth. 

I think some people are in denial about just how much trouble the game is in at the moment. Don't get me wrong, there has always been negativity and the game is famous for predictions of its demise. I used to say on this forum when SL crowds were at an all time high, that I was worried about when we eventually started to decline because there was so much negativity already about. 

I don't think it was some clever negotiating ploy, I think he was dishing out some home truths, things you can hear across the RL world community. My biggest concern is that we're reaching the 'jumping ship' point, where people don't want to be associated with something that it seen as failing and jump ship so to speak. This might seem hyperbolic but I think we're seeing it already at some clubs like my own. We've also seen the game in France go through the process.

Widnes have basically lost about 1500 fans per game since promotion in 2012. This seems to be accelerating too. There are of course a multitude of reasons but there are a number of people I am close to and others I follow on twitter who were diehard but just do other things now. I have a brother who has almost completely stopped following and become a massive Premier League fan instead because its just easier. Being a RL fan can be so demoralising at times.

As for Mr Hearn, I'm most in favour because the game desperately needs something to be positive about and something to give the impression that the sport is vibrant and worth following. At the moment it feels like we're sleep walking to the point where Sky pull out and we basically don't exist as a professional sport anymore. 

Whatever you think of the man, he gets headlines and he has done a good job elsewhere. Boxing is a sport in real trouble globally but doing pretty well in the UK. Snooker I can't speak of but the position of darts is way above RL and it never used to be.

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8 minutes ago, Maximus Decimus said:

Well that was an interesting read... Here's my tuppence worth. 

I think some people are in denial about just how much trouble the game is in at the moment. Don't get me wrong, there has always been negativity and the game is famous for predictions of its demise. I used to say on this forum when SL crowds were at an all time high, that I was worried about when we eventually started to decline because there was so much negativity already about. 

I don't think it was some clever negotiating ploy, I think he was dishing out some home truths, things you can hear across the RL world community. My biggest concern is that we're reaching the 'jumping ship' point, where people don't want to be associated with something that it seen as failing and jump ship so to speak. This might seem hyperbolic but I think we're seeing it already at some clubs like my own. We've also seen the game in France go through the process.

Widnes have basically lost about 1500 fans per game since promotion in 2012. This seems to be accelerating too.

This part in bold seems mathematically impossible, unless the Chemics started with about 300,000 per game on the occasion of their promotion.

On the wider matter, I think everyone accepts that the game could be doing better, that the modern world offers more distractions to people's leisure time and that Eddie Hearn's event-selling skills may be worth a cautious punt.

But he may not be the universal panacaea. He may well improve things; he may not improve things enough to justify his price. His new ideas might be blocked and vetoed by the SL chairmen, causing him to walk away in disgust. He may be a solid gold hit, driving up crowds and viewing figures. He may, while attracting new fans, alienate the trad tendency.

None of this is anything but speculation, so let's give him a single project to prove himself on and give him more if he delivers. Let's not give him the keys to the entire kingdom, just because he wants them and can turn fans' natural pessimism into gullibility.


Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. (Susan Ertz)

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19 minutes ago, Futtocks said:

This part in bold seems mathematically impossible, unless the Chemics started with about 300,000 per game on the occasion of their promotion.

On the wider matter, I think everyone accepts that the game could be doing better, that the modern world offers more distractions to people's leisure time and that Eddie Hearn's event-selling skills may be worth a cautious punt.

But he may not be the universal panacaea. He may well improve things; he may not improve things enough to justify his price. His new ideas might be blocked and vetoed by the SL chairmen, causing him to walk away in disgust. He may be a solid gold hit, driving up crowds and viewing figures. He may, while attracting new fans, alienate the trad tendency.

None of this is anything but speculation, so let's give him a single project to prove himself on and give him more if he delivers. Let's not give him the keys to the entire kingdom, just because he wants them and can turn fans' natural pessimism into gullibility.

Gotta love a pedant. Our minimum figure was about 5,500 in 2012 it is now about 4,000 and dropping. 

As I said there are a multitude of reasons and we have had crowds this low before but something feels different this time. When the Leeds crowd was announced there was a lot of talk in the crowd about how bad it was. This is where my point about jumping off a sinking ship comes in. Had we lost I can understand how it would've been tempting to not want to be associated with something perceived to be in decline. Winning deflects from this temporarily. 

Hearn might be a long shot and a bit of a Hail Mary but unless something changes we are only going to further decline. There could be other avenues for change of course but I can't see any likely ones. 

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18 minutes ago, Maximus Decimus said:

Gotta love a pedant. Our minimum figure was about 5,500 in 2012 it is now about 4,000 and dropping. 

As I said there are a multitude of reasons and we have had crowds this low before but something feels different this time. When the Leeds crowd was announced there was a lot of talk in the crowd about how bad it was. This is where my point about jumping off a sinking ship comes in. Had we lost I can understand how it would've been tempting to not want to be associated with something perceived to be in decline. Winning deflects from this temporarily. 

Hearn might be a long shot and a bit of a Hail Mary but unless something changes we are only going to further decline. There could be other avenues for change of course but I can't see any likely ones. 

The current set up has sucked the anticipation out of fixtures. If you miss a Widnes v Warrington game (which is usually the highlight of the season) there is a pretty good chance another one will roll along sometime soon. This does nothing to help promote marquee or even regular fixtures. Add to that the fact that the sales and marketing department hasn't got a scooby doo what their business will be doing from July onwards and it is a recipe for decline.

Only the die hards are going to buy season tickets under such circumstances. Lose season ticket holders, lose cash flow and lose the commitment or regular attendees.

Edited by Scubby
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I would of course want Widnes crowds to be better, but back in the early 90s I recall we were sometimes doing well to get 3k in, and that was when Davies et al were still with us and we got to Wembley.

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13 minutes ago, ChrisL2 said:

I would of course want Widnes crowds to be better, but back in the early 90s I recall we were sometimes doing well to get 3k in, and that was when Davies et al were still with us and we got to Wembley.

I don't want this to become a thread about Widnes' attendances but I do think something feels different this time. I say this as somebody who has followed the club through the highs and lows. 

For instance look at Salford, their crowds have almost collapsed over the last few years. This is despite high profile signings and periods of doing well on the pitch. The new stadium has been a disaster but they're also getting considerably less than they did previously in the new stadium. 

I think we might be in the middle of something similar. 

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21 minutes ago, Scubby said:

The current set up has sucked the anticipation out of fixtures. If you miss a Widnes v Warrington game (which is usually the highlight of the season) there is a pretty good chance another one will roll along sometime soon. This does nothing to help promote marquee or even regular fixtures. Add to that the fact that the sales and marketing department hasn't got a scooby doo what their business will be doing from July onwards and it is a recipe for decline.

Only the die hards are going to buy season tickets under such circumstances. Lose season ticket holders, lose cash flow and lose the commitment or regular attendees.

I'm not sure how big a factor this is. Season tickets however certainly fueled the growth of RL in the SL era but are now a hindrance because when people don't get one they don't commit. 

One thing I have noticed is how away followings have dwindled as well in the last couple of years. This is probably another representation of how games have become less essential. 

 

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It would be interesting what someone like Hearn could do for the game within the relatively narrow parameters of where he sees the value he could add. As has been said, he is an events promoter and a people promoter. Those are things that the game does struggle with and also the type of things the RFL could outsource to a third party. 

I think we can see some great steps forward through investment in areas like that but its only part of the measures necessary. There are still fundamental problems with the game that success in those areas wont really address. 

There is a cloud around the game at the moment that it is second rate. There isnt a lot about the game that acts like its a top tier sport in this country. We defer to the NRL and to Union. We dont even pretend that we challenge them or are in competition with them. Its like the game has lost the fire in its belly. We just accept players leaving us for the NRL or Union, we dont for a minute even expect the best players will consider SL. We have created a vicious cycle where we are scared to spend money, so dont bring money in so become even more reticent to spend money. 

What was the last SL signing you were truly, really excited to see?

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3 minutes ago, Maximus Decimus said:

I'm not sure how big a factor this is. Season tickets however certainly fueled the growth of RL in the SL era but are now a hindrance because when people don't get one they don't commit. 

One thing I have noticed is how away followings have dwindled as well in the last couple of years. This is probably another representation of how games have become less essential.

I really do think there are very big issues in the game.  I expect participation to collapse in the next ten years and financial crises to come again.  There are painful solutions.  In the meantime, it might be (though I am wary) that Hearns can patch things up a little.


"You clearly have never met Bob8 then, he's like a veritable Bryan Ferry of RL." - Johnoco 19 Jul 2014

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1 minute ago, Bob8 said:

I really do think there are very big issues in the game.  I expect participation to collapse in the next ten years and financial crises to come again.  There are painful solutions.  In the meantime, it might be (though I am wary) that Hearns can patch things up a little.

The thing about Hearns is that it would be a confidence boost for the game. If somebody of Hearn's perceived calibre thinks that there is something in RL then that would be worth more than any marketing campaign could do. 

Don't get me wrong it'd be silly to think he can waive a magic wand but a bit of positivity could go a long way to arresting some decline. 

After seeing the viewing figures since the channel move around, I've been most concerned about Sky pulling out. I think we forget just how reliant the professional game is on them. 

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1 hour ago, Maximus Decimus said:

 

I don't think it was some clever negotiating ploy, I think he was dishing out some home truths, things you can hear across the RL world community. 

This is the quote from Hearn when saying he doesnt know any RL players:

I was talking to Ralph and I could only throw four names at him: Ellery Hanley, Martin Offiah, Andy Farrell and Jamie Peacock.

Now if a prominent sports fan such as him goes from Hanley to Peacock with only two players inbetween then he has less intrerest in RL than he claims and therefore cant know anything about our problems, as he obviously doesnt watch the games to see these empty seats that he claims he sees. He obviously missed Sinfield's career, or the fact that Jason Robinson started in RL, or SBW is a dual code player, or hasnt heard of Sam Tomkins, even the bad boys like Zak Hardaker? Wasnt he one of the 2m people that watched the England games in the World Cup on the BBC?

So he either has little knowledge of RL (although apparently knows our issues), or he is lying for effect (my view) and that is absolutely a negotiation tool/bargaining chip, call it what you will. Making extreme points is not telling home truths.

Fwiw i have no issues with his tactics, but we should make decisions on his involvement based on the facts, what his skills are and what we want from him.

From what he has said so far he could make half a dozen players more famous through social media. Id be more excited if he said he could deliver a packed Wembley, or full houses for the Kiwi Test Series, or a capacity ay Magic, or double our commercial income. If they are the kinds of things he is claiming behind closed doors id sihn him up tomorrow on an attractive commission basis.

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23 minutes ago, Dave T said:

This is the quote from Hearn when saying he doesnt know any RL players:

I was talking to Ralph and I could only throw four names at him: Ellery Hanley, Martin Offiah, Andy Farrell and Jamie Peacock.

Now if a prominent sports fan such as him goes from Hanley to Peacock with only two players inbetween then he has less intrerest in RL than he claims and therefore cant know anything about our problems, as he obviously doesnt watch the games to see these empty seats that he claims he sees. He obviously missed Sinfield's career, or the fact that Jason Robinson started in RL, or SBW is a dual code player, or hasnt heard of Sam Tomkins, even the bad boys like Zak Hardaker? Wasnt he one of the 2m people that watched the England games in the World Cup on the BBC?

So he either has little knowledge of RL (although apparently knows our issues), or he is lying for effect (my view) and that is absolutely a negotiation tool/bargaining chip, call it what you will. Making extreme points is not telling home truths.

I was going to try and address this point, but you've done it way better than I could. To say that he only knows four names is him either being a drama queen, or revealing that he has a terrible memory, or that he has absolutely no interest in the sport. I haven't watched a club RL match since I went to the challenge cup final in 2004. I watch only England matches, and even then generally only games against Australia and New Zealand - an exception was bits of the other games at the world cup - yet I could name probably 25 current RL players. If I increased this to the last twenty or thirty years then I'd be able to name probably one hundred players. I'm not saying that I could tell you everything about those players, but I could at least name them and maybe tell you what club they played for at one time or other. I hate it when someone has a valid point (as Hearn may well do about the profile of RL) but then says something that is so stupid that it just makes me want to stop listening to them.

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48 minutes ago, Dave T said:

This is the quote from Hearn when saying he doesnt know any RL players:

I was talking to Ralph and I could only throw four names at him: Ellery Hanley, Martin Offiah, Andy Farrell and Jamie Peacock.

Now if a prominent sports fan such as him goes from Hanley to Peacock with only two players inbetween then he has less intrerest in RL than he claims and therefore cant know anything about our problems, as he obviously doesnt watch the games to see these empty seats that he claims he sees. He obviously missed Sinfield's career, or the fact that Jason Robinson started in RL, or SBW is a dual code player, or hasnt heard of Sam Tomkins, even the bad boys like Zak Hardaker? Wasnt he one of the 2m people that watched the England games in the World Cup on the BBC?

So he either has little knowledge of RL (although apparently knows our issues), or he is lying for effect (my view) and that is absolutely a negotiation tool/bargaining chip, call it what you will. Making extreme points is not telling home truths.

Fwiw i have no issues with his tactics, but we should make decisions on his involvement based on the facts, what his skills are and what we want from him.

From what he has said so far he could make half a dozen players more famous through social media. Id be more excited if he said he could deliver a packed Wembley, or full houses for the Kiwi Test Series, or a capacity ay Magic, or double our commercial income. If they are the kinds of things he is claiming behind closed doors id sihn him up tomorrow on an attractive commission basis.

I think you're reading too much into what he said. I'm sure if pressed he could be reminded of one or two players. 

However he's completely right that we don't have any household names anymore; this isnt a ploy. I work 20 miles south of Warrington and Widnes and can guarantee that virtually none of my colleagues could name a RL player. 

He has the luxury of being able to do something you can't do. That is to look at RL as a complete outsider.

There are a number of sports that I am casually aware of and have even attended games but where I couldn't name more than a couple of its stars if any. I can think of NFL, NBA, AFL, NHL, MLB, Speedway, GAA, UFC to name just a few. This doesn't mean I don't have any understanding of these sports, their issues or what the general public perceives of them. 

It is more than possible that Hearns has a passing knowledge of RL. Enough to know that the game is decent but has problems with perception and image. 

 

Edited by Maximus Decimus
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I’ve got the darts UK Open semi final from Minehead on TV right now There are more empty seats than there are spectators and there aren’t many seats to begin with. Is this one of Hearn’s events?

Edited by deluded pom?

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2 minutes ago, deluded pom? said:

I’ve got the darts UK Open semi final from Minehead. There are more empty seats than there are spectators and there aren’t many seats to begin with. Is this one of Hearns’ events?

Here’s the full story:

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.mirror.co.uk/sport/other-sports/darts/uk-open-played-behind-closed-12114228.amp

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16 minutes ago, Maximus Decimus said:

I think you're reading too much into what he said. I'm sure if pressed he could be reminded of one or two players. 

However he's completely right that we don't have any household names anymore; this isnt a ploy. I work 20 miles south of Warrington and Widnes and can guarantee that virtually none of my colleagues could name a RL player. 

He has the luxury of being able to do something you can't do. That is to look at RL as a complete outsider.

There are a number of sports that I am casually aware of and have even attended games but where I couldn't name more than a couple of its stars if any. I can think of NFL, NBA, AFL, NHL, MLB, Speedway, GAA, UFC to name just a few. This doesn't mean I don't have any understanding of these sports, their issues or what the general public perceives of them. 

It is more than possible that Hearns has a passing knowledge of RL. Enough to know that the game is decent but has problems with perception and image. 

 

But you see the contradiction here? You as a sports fan, cant name players in sports you are aware of and have even attended. But in RL that equals a disaster. Also, you cant say that he is just telling home truths, and when that is ripped apart claim we cant read too mcuh into what he said!

I get that we dont have household names, but I actually think that is fairly common - im not even sure what constitutes a household name anyway. I see fans as being able to name players of sports they watch. Im not even sure of the tangible benefit the game would get. If Jon Wilkin was on Celeb Masterchef im not sure that will translate into a lot more viewers on the BBC for Cup games or at Langtree Park for Saints games.

I am far more intrerested in his thoughts on filling grounds for major events (or staging more England events).

 

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3 hours ago, Maximus Decimus said:

Well that was an interesting read... Here's my tuppence worth. 

I think some people are in denial about just how much trouble the game is in at the moment. Don't get me wrong, there has always been negativity and the game is famous for predictions of its demise. I used to say on this forum when SL crowds were at an all time high, that I was worried about when we eventually started to decline because there was so much negativity already about. 

I don't think it was some clever negotiating ploy, I think he was dishing out some home truths, things you can hear across the RL world community. My biggest concern is that we're reaching the 'jumping ship' point, where people don't want to be associated with something that it seen as failing and jump ship so to speak. This might seem hyperbolic but I think we're seeing it already at some clubs like my own. We've also seen the game in France go through the process.

Widnes have basically lost about 1500 fans per game since promotion in 2012. This seems to be accelerating too. There are of course a multitude of reasons but there are a number of people I am close to and others I follow on twitter who were diehard but just do other things now. I have a brother who has almost completely stopped following and become a massive Premier League fan instead because its just easier. Being a RL fan can be so demoralising at times.

As for Mr Hearn, I'm most in favour because the game desperately needs something to be positive about and something to give the impression that the sport is vibrant and worth following. At the moment it feels like we're sleep walking to the point where Sky pull out and we basically don't exist as a professional sport anymore. 

Whatever you think of the man, he gets headlines and he has done a good job elsewhere. Boxing is a sport in real trouble globally but doing pretty well in the UK. Snooker I can't speak of but the position of darts is way above RL and it never used to be.

One of the more depressing sporting experiences of my RL life was the CC final last year - two of the biggest names in RL, and two of the best supported sides in the country to boot - and yet it was full on expecation management in the run up, with the entire (?) top bowl not for sale.

Although the stated attendence was kind of OK, the lack of ambition was heart-breaking. 

All those empty seats, with very little effort made to fill them.


It's not a question of coming down to earth, Mr Duxbury. Some of us, Mr Duxbury, belong in the stars.

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1 minute ago, Dave T said:

But you see the contradiction here? You as a sports fan, cant name players in sports you are aware of and have even attended. But in RL that equals a disaster. Also, you cant say that he is just telling home truths, and when that is ripped apart claim we cant read too mcuh into what he said!

I get that we dont have household names, but I actually think that is fairly common - im not even sure what constitutes a household name anyway. I see fans as being able to name players of sports they watch. Im not even sure of the tangible benefit the game would get. If Jon Wilkin was on Celeb Masterchef im not sure that will translate into a lot more viewers on the BBC for Cup games or at Langtree Park for Saints games.

I am far more intrerested in his thoughts on filling grounds for major events (or staging more England events).

 

I meant to say I think you might have a valid point that it suggests that he might not have enough of an idea about RL to be able to help. 

The counter to this is that he might not need to know much about it to recognise that it is being undersold. I know little about GAA and AFL for instance but I know enough to say that they are both decent enough sports that given the right opportunity could be big elsewhere. He could've watched the odd game of RL, thought it was decent and as a promoter thought it was being ran badly.

I also know very little practically about Scottish football but I know what the general impression is and that the game there is perceived to be on a downward trajectory. 

The household name thing I suppose is about how big a footprint the sport has on the national level. UK wise I could name athletes from Football, RU, Golf, Boxing, Darts etc but couldn't from British Basketball, Ice Hockey or Shinty.

You're of course right to wonder whether something that happens fairly naturally can be reverse engineered so to speak. If RL had a bigger profile Wilkin might get on Masterchef but getting him on it might not increase the profile of RL much. 

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10 minutes ago, deluded pom? said:

If the England soccer team are on TV I will struggle to name a third of them.

Other than dedicated soccer fans I'd guess you won't be alone, but that's a symptom of a different kind of problem - I'm not sure the market for top-flight soccer is under pressure in the same way that RL's is.


It's not a question of coming down to earth, Mr Duxbury. Some of us, Mr Duxbury, belong in the stars.

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12 minutes ago, Stevo said:

One of the more depressing sporting experiences of my RL life was the CC final last year - two of the biggest names in RL, and two of the best supported sides in the country to boot - and yet it was full on expecation management in the run up, with the entire (?) top bowl not for sale.

Although the stated attendence was kind of OK, the lack of ambition was heart-breaking. 

All those empty seats, with very little effort made to fill them.

The CC has been on a downward trajectory for years and years but the success of SL has been the counter to it. 

The reality is that it is only likely to further decline and a move away from Wembley seems more likely all the time. 

We are not the only sport that has seen a decline in cup competitions, the problem we have is that nationally it was our highest profile gig and is still the time most casual people view the sport. It doesn't give off a vibrant impression. 

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4 minutes ago, Maximus Decimus said:

I meant to say I think you might have a valid point that it suggests that he might not have enough of an idea about RL to be able to help. 

The counter to this is that he might not need to know much about it to recognise that it is being undersold. I know little about GAA and AFL for instance but I know enough to say that they are both decent enough sports that given the right opportunity could be big elsewhere. He could've watched the odd game of RL, thought it was decent and as a promoter thought it was being ran badly.

I also know very little practically about Scottish football but I know what the general impression is and that the game there is perceived to be on a downward trajectory. 

The household name thing I suppose is about how big a footprint the sport has on the national level. UK wise I could name athletes from Football, RU, Golf, Boxing, Darts etc but couldn't from British Basketball, Ice Hockey or Shinty.

You're of course right to wonder whether something that happens fairly naturally can be reverse engineered so to speak. If RL had a bigger profile Wilkin might get on Masterchef but getting him on it might not increase the profile of RL much. 

I think this is where a team sport like RL cam be very different to individual sports like boxing. In boxing, it is all about the individual and you have to just sell on thay person. Creating big names and getting them to fight each other is the most important thing. In RL i thonk it is slightly different. None of thag is to say we shoildnt be pushing players' profile.

In reality, in RL players will get known if more people watch the games more regularly. That and newsworthy incidents like Hardaker or Flower, buy its best we focus on the former. We dont have a friendly media so discount that.

More and more internationals and high profile events with more people watching in the ground and on tv fixes awareness of players, awareness of players wont necessarily fill the empty seats and increase viewing figures. 

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Hearn or whoever needs a plan for the whole game and for the Clubs at all Levels to buy in to. A plan just for SL or a small group will create further problems for the RFL and game as a whole.

The game as a whole from Youth,  amateur Semi Pro to SL and the National team needs a framework that benefits or improves things for everybody. The Youth and amateur scene is vital for the Pro game. But its in a bad way. The Pro Game is struggling to find quality players for the future.

If the Clubs dont buy in to it then Hearn might as well Not bother. The Clubs have the Power and influence to decide where the game goes. Sadly they have often damaged the game for their own gain. If Hearn thinks he can just turn up and all will be good he is in for a shock. I hope he has done his homework and sevn the problems the game has.

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1 minute ago, Lounge Room Lizard said:

Hearn or whoever needs a plan for the whole game and for the Clubs at all Levels to buy in to. A plan just for SL or a small group will create further problems for the RFL and game as a whole.

The game as a whole from Youth,  amateur Semi Pro to SL and the National team needs a framework that benefits or improves things for everybody. The Youth and amateur scene is vital for the Pro game. But its in a bad way. The Pro Game is struggling to find quality players for the future.

If the Clubs dont buy in to it then Hearn might as well Not bother. The Clubs have the Power and influence to decide where the game goes. Sadly they have often damaged the game for their own gain. If Hearn thinks he can just turn up and all will be good he is in for a shock. I hope he has done his homework and sevn the problems the game has.

There is a seeming obsession in the game that every solution has to be a solution for everything. The problem is that there is an absolutely massive gap between top of the championship and bottom of SL, the gap between the bottom of league 1 and the top of SL is an absolute chasm.

Desperately trying to find one solution that fits London Skolars, Leigh and Leeds is a pretty much impossible task.

Its almost certain that there isnt one solution for the whole game, but at least 8/9/10 different solutions for differing problems for different parts of the game. 

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