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Woolford slams “irresponsible” Hetherington

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Simon Woolford has slammed Gary Hetherington’s comments regarding player welfare. The Leeds Rhinos chief executive, in a wide-ranging interview with the media last week, said...

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I genuinely thought that interview with Heatherington was an April fools. Can’t believe anyone would say what he said about player welfare

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3 minutes ago, Sir Kevin Sinfield said:

I can’t read the article but does Woolford come up with a solution to complete the season which satisfies Sky’s broadcasting deal? 

what if satisfying Sky's broadcasting deal means you have to put that above player welfare? 

In those circumstances, I'd say the problem is with Sky.

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Don't what he had in mind but from purely a SL perspective if you had something like the following you could do x3 games a week

Scrapped reserve games

Increased number of interchanges

No individual player could play for than so many minutes over the x3 games or even only play in x2 of the x3 games

Team have a max of first team squad plus max number of reserves per game.

Maybe only 60mins per game

etc, etc

You can easily guard over playing of players...

I assume he is throwing the idea as a discussion point, a bit like the x4 quarters suggestion...

Then idea's of how it could be done as distinct that assuming all players play x3 80min games...

 

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1 minute ago, redjonn said:

Don't what he had in mind but from purely a SL perspective if you had something like the following you could do x3 games a week

Scrapped reserve games

Increased number of interchanges

No individual player could play for than so many minutes over the x3 games or even only play in x2 of the x3 games

Team have a max of first team squad plus max number of reserves per game.

Maybe only 60mins per game

etc, etc

You can easily guard over playing of players...

I assume he is throwing the idea as a discussion point, a bit like the x4 quarters suggestion...

Then idea's of how it could be done as distinct that assuming all players play x3 80min games...

 

I think that was more hetheringtons point, you can manage player welfare even if you need to play 3 games in 9 or 10 days. 

And then is it 3 games every ten days? 3 games.in 10 days once or twice? More.

Players could probably do it once (that's not a big issue and often happens if games are postponed) or twice. If they are doing it every week you can look at limiting minutes etc.

I think it's certainly possible (as long as we give toronto some kind of dispensation to expand the squad) to do it and do it safely.

The bigger question I have is would people watch tired second string RL, I cant imagine its going to be a great spectacle.

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I take it the two games in five days rule is new and only counts at Super League level? I’ve not heard of this rule before but it’s a rule I quite like the premise of. I imagine it’s also not set in stone, so under wild circumstances, it could be broken. 

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3 hours ago, Mr Plow said:

I genuinely thought that interview with Heatherington was an April fools. Can’t believe anyone would say what he said about player welfare

New stadiums don't pay for themselves, you know.

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Sport, amongst other things, is a dream-world offering escape from harsh reality and the disturbing prospect of change.

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2 hours ago, iffleyox said:

what if satisfying Sky's broadcasting deal means you have to put that above player welfare? 

In those circumstances, I'd say the problem is with Sky.

Not really Sky's problem to solve though is it? Conversely if Sky turn round and say well we're putting playing welfare first and not accepting this idea of playing so many games in such a short space of time, are you still expecting them to pay SL? 

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If we have a shortened season with less TV games clubs will get less money.

Sky are not going to pay for games that dont happen.

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25 minutes ago, hunsletgreenandgold said:

Not really Sky's problem to solve though is it? Conversely if Sky turn round and say well we're putting playing welfare first and not accepting this idea of playing so many games in such a short space of time, are you still expecting them to pay SL? 

but then it is what it could end up being anyway now, a contractual disagreement.

If this was fantasy land, or a film, then you'd turn round to a generation of players and say to them "put your bodies on the line for the sport, put the survival of the sport first, get out there and save rugby league - screw what happens to you or your families, the sport is the thing"

meanwhile back in reality...

which is sort of my point - if Sky pulled the funding plug either way because of coronavirus then Sky get to be the people who kill a sport - which is why I'd be astonished if they did it. Particularly when it's not just rugby league in that boat. Sky are in a unique position where they basically could kill a few sports off if they get it wrong. Never mind those sports' governing bodies.

And that goes back to one of the older circular arguments on here - is it healthy for any sport to be so in hock to one broadcaster? And if it isn't, then what could be done differently? Is it worth having less money and worse facilities for more control? Ir is it better to be so bound up like a fly in a cobweb that when it comes down to it the RFL/SL have to cobble together something to stop a third party turning the lights off? 

Bottom line? In a world where we *might* not get any sport this calendar year (or not until right at the back end), then yes, I'd expect Sky to be paying all sports that they've got a contract with a percentage rather than nothing. Because if they don't then they're not going to have much sport to cover in the future are they?

If sport more generally becomes playable this year then yes, the RFL, the ECB, AAA, WTA, PTA, PGL, EPL etc all need to know what they're going to be able to do/offer to Sky. But the bigger question begged here is what's Sky's strategy if it doesn't....?

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as an addendum - based on the last line, what if it's a perfect storm. What if SL gets going again but all the global sports Sky covers outside the UK don't - tennis, cricket, golf etc. Yes Sky have a contract with SL but in those circumstances where their revenue has gone through the floor don't they try very hard to not give SL all the money they're expecting? Bit far fetched admittedly, but what if RL and the county championship got going, demanded all their contracted money, and consequently were the ones who brought SKY down while all the other sports weren't on? That's not how to make friends or influence people either.

I stand by it and say that unless Sky want to just hand over the cash in return for nothing (which might be an option),  IMO no sport is getting from Sky* the whole amount in 2020 that it is expecting. 

 

*other channels are available with sports broadcasting rights.

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33 minutes ago, iffleyox said:

as an addendum - based on the last line, what if it's a perfect storm. What if SL gets going again but all the global sports Sky covers outside the UK don't - tennis, cricket, golf etc. Yes Sky have a contract with SL but in those circumstances where their revenue has gone through the floor don't they try very hard to not give SL all the money they're expecting? Bit far fetched admittedly, but what if RL and the county championship got going, demanded all their contracted money, and consequently were the ones who brought SKY down while all the other sports weren't on? That's not how to make friends or influence people either.

I stand by it and say that unless Sky want to just hand over the cash in return for nothing (which might be an option),  IMO no sport is getting from Sky* the whole amount in 2020 that it is expecting. 

 

*other channels are available with sports broadcasting rights.

Sky need to pay RL a certain amount to keep SL professional, and it really isnt that much.

If Sky tried to pay less. Go to terrestrial. Take risk on being the only game in town. 

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16 minutes ago, iffleyox said:

but then it is what it could end up being anyway now, a contractual disagreement.

If this was fantasy land, or a film, then you'd turn round to a generation of players and say to them "put your bodies on the line for the sport, put the survival of the sport first, get out there and save rugby league - screw what happens to you or your families, the sport is the thing"

meanwhile back in reality...

which is sort of my point - if Sky pulled the funding plug either way because of coronavirus then Sky get to be the people who kill a sport - which is why I'd be astonished if they did it. Particularly when it's not just rugby league in that boat. Sky are in a unique position where they basically could kill a few sports off if they get it wrong. Never mind those sports' governing bodies.

And that goes back to one of the older circular arguments on here - is it healthy for any sport to be so in hock to one broadcaster? And if it isn't, then what could be done differently? Is it worth having less money and worse facilities for more control? Ir is it better to be so bound up like a fly in a cobweb that when it comes down to it the RFL/SL have to cobble together something to stop a third party turning the lights off? 

Bottom line? In a world where we *might* not get any sport this calendar year (or not until right at the back end), then yes, I'd expect Sky to be paying all sports that they've got a contract with a percentage rather than nothing. Because if they don't then they're not going to have much sport to cover in the future are they?

If sport more generally becomes playable this year then yes, the RFL, the ECB, AAA, WTA, PTA, PGL, EPL etc all need to know what they're going to be able to do/offer to Sky. But the bigger question begged here is what's Sky's strategy if it doesn't....?

I read all of that on certainly agree with the points you make about the vulnerable position our sport has placed itself by being essentially owned by a broadcaster. I still maintain overall however that if/when the season can commence, if SL clubs want all their funds from Sky then it is their problem to resolve the scheduling within the time constraints the may have. Whilst we don't know the finer details of the contract between SL and Sky we can safely assume (through no fault of their own) SL aren't meeting their obligations at the moment. Now, we know Sky have paid their latest instalments of funding (in fact there's a separate thread about it) and they've not made any suggestions at the moment they won't continue to do so, but as you rightly elude to the longer this goes on I'm sure Sky's position will change to one of goodwill payments to help support keeping clubs afloat, as it's not in their interests either to 'kill' the sport, as you put it. 

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1 minute ago, scotchy1 said:

Sky need to pay RL a certain amount to keep SL professional, and it really isnt that much.

If Sky tried to pay less. Go to terrestrial. Take risk on being the only game in town. 

Yes, agree. I can't work out what the fallout is though if there's no sport this year, and Sky don't pay any sport anything. What's the survival/hibernation plan then? (Not expecting you to know by the way, just musing).

You can sort of see it in RU at the moment where everything below the Premiership has been called off for the season. At level 3 in particular, where they just get some help with travelling expenses (and that goes nowhere in a league of 16 that includes Plymouth and Darlington), everyone sort of knows where they stand but there's a question mark over which of the 16 teams are still standing if it gets underway again in September. And that's clubs who find pretty well all their own money. The howls of anguish earlier in the year when the RFU announced dropping central funding for level 2 clubs from £500,000 a year to under £200,000 was another straw in the wind.

In a world where Sky is the principal source of funds for probably at least half of SL, it could be cataclysmic. I don't know what the answer is either, but it's not a good position for the game (RL) to be in. Low overheads is fine, but slash the income...

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5 minutes ago, iffleyox said:

Yes, agree. I can't work out what the fallout is though if there's no sport this year, and Sky don't pay any sport anything. What's the survival/hibernation plan then? (Not expecting you to know by the way, just musing).

You can sort of see it in RU at the moment where everything below the Premiership has been called off for the season. At level 3 in particular, where they just get some help with travelling expenses (and that goes nowhere in a league of 16 that includes Plymouth and Darlington), everyone sort of knows where they stand but there's a question mark over which of the 16 teams are still standing if it gets underway again in September. And that's clubs who find pretty well all their own money. The howls of anguish earlier in the year when the RFU announced dropping central funding for level 2 clubs from £500,000 a year to under £200,000 was another straw in the wind.

In a world where Sky is the principal source of funds for probably at least half of SL, it could be cataclysmic. I don't know what the answer is either, but it's not a good position for the game (RL) to be in. Low overheads is fine, but slash the income...

If it were the case that the games could be played but sky wont pay. There is a market out there for 'something'

From sky SL would be looking at a shortfall of about  £13m (£26m a year, a guess at half of it is paid, the games loss in total.woukd be about another £7m at a guess). Is that gettable from say the BBC for half a season? Maybe. There is still going to be a lot of losses from corporates and ticket sales but you would hope that at least some of the owners would see the value for the years after.

It would obviously see some consolidation around the clubs who had some private financial backing as they are the only ones who will make it through.

If the government does give the RFL some money to should be used to buy the assets of any distressed club to ensure they stay in the game and allow a club to reform 

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I cannot see sporting events being allowed or permitted for a good while yet.

 I think if anything sporting events will be the very last thing that will be allowed to resume.

 

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1 hour ago, lucky 7 said:

If we have a shortened season with less TV games clubs will get less money.

Sky are not going to pay for games that dont happen.

I don't see the argument

Sky pay for X number of games per season. How SL provide that is entirely up to them.

So, if SL returns and Sky need 6 games per week instead of the usual 2 or 3 - to make up the shortfall - then SL could just offer them ALL 6 games over the weekend. A game on Thursday, Friday, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. Even a game deferred from Sunday to Monday for TV - it's happened before!

We could even play Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday x2, Sunday and Monday.

The idea of having to play 3 games a week for TV scheduling reasons is a fallacy

My suspicion is that Gary Hetherington is thinking about 3 games per week so that Leeds can get the income from the supporters, corporate and sponsorship. Nothing wrong with that, necessarily - but let's be clear about the reasons.

 

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1 minute ago, paulwalker71 said:

I don't see the argument

Sky pay for X number of games per season. How SL provide that is entirely up to them.

So, if SL returns and Sky need 6 games per week instead of the usual 2 or 3 - to make up the shortfall - then SL could just offer them ALL 6 games over the weekend. A game on Thursday, Friday, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. Even a game deferred from Sunday to Monday for TV - it's happened before!

We could even play Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday x2, Sunday and Monday.

The idea of having to play 3 games a week for TV scheduling reasons is a fallacy

My suspicion is that Gary Hetherington is thinking about 3 games per week so that Leeds can get the income from the supporters, corporate and sponsorship. Nothing wrong with that, necessarily - but let's be clear about the reasons.

 

I think the three games per week would be necessary to get the games all played in time

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14 minutes ago, Robthegasman said:

I cannot see sporting events being allowed or permitted for a good while yet.

 I think if anything sporting events will be the very last thing that will be allowed to resume.

 

We are certainly a while off, it could be June, July, August even September, we just don’t know at this stage. 

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3 minutes ago, paulwalker71 said:

I don't see the argument

Sky pay for X number of games per season. How SL provide that is entirely up to them.

So, if SL returns and Sky need 6 games per week instead of the usual 2 or 3 - to make up the shortfall - then SL could just offer them ALL 6 games over the weekend. A game on Thursday, Friday, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. Even a game deferred from Sunday to Monday for TV - it's happened before!

We could even play Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday x2, Sunday and Monday.

The idea of having to play 3 games a week for TV scheduling reasons is a fallacy

My suspicion is that Gary Hetherington is thinking about 3 games per week so that Leeds can get the income from the supporters, corporate and sponsorship. Nothing wrong with that, necessarily - but let's be clear about the reasons.

 

Regards to the tv contract with Sky, most people, myself included are guessing, but I don’t think it’s as simple as they show x amount of games and we can dictate they show every game to make up their numbers.

I think 2 games per round will be in the contract and we’ll need to play 27 rounds + play off + final to satisfy the Sky contract that funds our sport.

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2 hours ago, redjonn said:

Don't what he had in mind but from purely a SL perspective if you had something like the following you could do x3 games a week

Scrapped reserve games

Increased number of interchanges

No individual player could play for than so many minutes over the x3 games or even only play in x2 of the x3 games

Team have a max of first team squad plus max number of reserves per game.

Maybe only 60mins per game

etc, etc

You can easily guard over playing of players...

I assume he is throwing the idea as a discussion point, a bit like the x4 quarters suggestion...

Then idea's of how it could be done as distinct that assuming all players play x3 80min games...

 

Toronto ?

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38 minutes ago, Robthegasman said:

I cannot see sporting events being allowed or permitted for a good while yet.

 I think if anything sporting events will be the very last thing that will be allowed to resume.

 

It certainly won't be at the ' drop of a hat ' back on , we will have plenty of notice to sort out the best way to resume , the players themselves will need 2/3 weeks to get back to a realistic fitness level no matter how much work they've put in at home 

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