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Stabilization v Expansion

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1 hour ago, Harry Stottle said:

Tommy if we have that kind of money to use, it should be spent on promoting the game over here and getting more playing the sport, it is not as though we are not in need of a good dose of care and attention, we need to be in a very stable situation before spending what we have on others.

Have you ever noticed when on a plane and they are going through the safety procedures how they advise those with children in the case of the oxygen facemasks 'dropping' and having to be utilsed, the instruction is to put your own on first before attending to the child, there is a very good reason for that which I will leave you work out why.

The player pool is limited by the number of professional contracts available. Right now that stands at a pitifully low figure in the northern hemisphere. Hundreds of players every year are dumped out of the academy game to not return to amateur level because mainly there isn't the opportunity and the majority choose not to play part time. Expanding the number of professional opportunities is an essential part of our game growing as much as expanding youth.

This isn't charity starts at home, this is drawing investment in from outside. You can only cut your cloth so much before you run out of cloth. 

It's why I said earlier in this thread that fans of perennially second division sides such as yours should be praying for expansion over stabilization in the OP's suggested dichotomy. As if the Super League clubs want to "stabilise" or to use your term "charity begins at home", they're not going to look after the second and third division clubs are they?

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18 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

The player pool is limited by the number of professional contracts available. Right now that stands at a pitifully low figure in the northern hemisphere. Hundreds of players every year are dumped out of the academy game to not return to amateur level because mainly there isn't the opportunity and the majority choose not to play part time. Expanding the number of professional opportunities is an essential part of our game growing as much as expanding youth.

This isn't charity starts at home, this is drawing investment in from outside. You can only cut your cloth so much before you run out of cloth. 

It's why I said earlier in this thread that fans of perennially second division sides such as yours should be praying for expansion over stabilization in the OP's suggested dichotomy. As if the Super League clubs want to "stabilise" or to use your term "charity begins at home", they're not going to look after the second and third division clubs are they?

I suggest that it's also limited by the game's small footprint, low profile, small time parochial ways and lack of money which I suspect are a definite turnoff for many boys and young men nowadays, including a good number of the sons and grandsons of the RL players and fans of yesteryear.

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Just now, Big Picture said:

I suggest that it's also limited by the game's small footprint, low profile, small time parochial ways and lack of money which I suspect are a definite turnoff for many boys and young men nowadays, including a good number of the sons and grandsons of the RL players and fans of yesteryear.

I think there's certainly an element to that. I suggested on here before that without schools essentially forcing kids to play the game we face an increasingly declining interest.

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1 hour ago, whatmichaelsays said:

I'd introduce alternative forms of the sport such as 7s or 9s.

I agree. I think this strategy makes the most sense when trying to introduce people from new areas. It gives you much more flexibility in terms of the number of teams, the amount of time you play for, the structure of events, etc. You need that flexibility in order to try new things. You can't do it with 13-a-side 80 minutes matches. They might come in time, but you need something else to gain a foothold.

I don't know how it can be done, but I do believe that you need new teams (7's or 9's) that will represent the areas that you're hoping to attract interest from. It simply won't work if your plan is to take Widnes to Birmingham and say "hey, we're Widnes, rugby league is a great sport, please come and watch and support us."

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2 hours ago, scotchy1 said:

Well they have already expanded and contributed to the player pool. Far more than any club in the lower leagues bar possibly Bradford.

But the environment created has limited the abilities of any club to do the things we want them to do

FFS Scotchy, not to go over the well beaten track once more, it is not just the pro and semi pro clubs of the area's that contribute to the player pool it is the area's themselves, look af the academies of the SL clubs and take note of the origins of the player's who populate them they are scattered from all over the lower leagues, I would wager the influx of new academy players for the 2020 season from those area's will be more than the whole of Canada will produce in the next 10 years.

So tell me what this environment that has been created that limits the abilities of any club and specifically how that effects Canada.

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When it boils down to it we have one huge problem in UK RL, we do it on the cheap, we are seen as being on the cheap, we have fans who demand it on the cheap, we have fans who do their best to drive out new money coming in, we cater for the cheap clubs, we employ cheap leaders with little or no ability to grow a business, sponsors see us as cheap, media see us as cheap - and we like a damn good moan about it all.

Unless we raise the bar and have a joined up approach to expansion ie they bring wealth to the table not take from it, then we will be this cheap sport supported by cheap fans on cheap wages. FFS even Greggs reinvented themselves away from being cheap

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28 minutes ago, sweaty craiq said:

When it boils down to it we have one huge problem in UK RL, we do it on the cheap, we are seen as being on the cheap, we have fans who demand it on the cheap, we have fans who do their best to drive out new money coming in, we cater for the cheap clubs, we employ cheap leaders with little or no ability to grow a business, sponsors see us as cheap, media see us as cheap - and we like a damn good moan about it all.

Unless we raise the bar and have a joined up approach to expansion ie they bring wealth to the table not take from it, then we will be this cheap sport supported by cheap fans on cheap wages. FFS even Greggs reinvented themselves away from being cheap

This is certainly one of the biggest issues.

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1 hour ago, whatmichaelsays said:

I use "Derek from Castleford" as an..........

Thank you for that, I am not disagreeing with anything that you say, I would agree to most things that would make our game more popular and entice people in, irrespective of Ethel and myself preferring to stay in the pub until kick off time, but as you state we are not the target audience, simply put we are the converted with a limited shelf life. 

You quite obviously - well you do to me being a novice in such matters - seem very well versed in these intracsies you so eloquently describe. So who is it up to set in motion this apparently life saving system of enticing a whole new audience, should it be a directive from the governing body to invest 'X' amount from the subsistence fund the clubs recieve, or considering it is the individual clubs who will gain from whatever the investment is should they bite the bullet and go for it .................. do you see it ever happening?

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27 minutes ago, scotchy1 said:

You are wrong and your self-serving definition of youth development is silly. 

However even by your silly criteria you are wrong. 

The post i responded to was talking about France. Not Canada. 

If you had followed all the conversation you would have seen the main theme was Canada.

And why I am I wrong in stating that area's other than the cities and towns of SL clubs provide players for academies, simply check the rosters, but you already know that.

 

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39 minutes ago, sweaty craiq said:

When it boils down to it we have one huge problem in UK RL, we do it on the cheap, we are seen as being on the cheap, we have fans who demand it on the cheap, we have fans who do their best to drive out new money coming in, we cater for the cheap clubs, we employ cheap leaders with little or no ability to grow a business, sponsors see us as cheap, media see us as cheap - and we like a damn good moan about it all.

Unless we raise the bar and have a joined up approach to expansion ie they bring wealth to the table not take from it, then we will be this cheap sport supported by cheap fans on cheap wages. FFS even Greggs reinvented themselves away from being cheap

Totally agree, also we want our players to be low paid, especially relative to other contact sports. Rugby League at the professional level, like professional RU, soccer and gridiron, takes a huge toll on the participants bodies, many are left with life changing injuries, often unable to live an active life into retirement, yet we expect them to be paid way less than their peers. Three of my customers are retired pro athletes, two played in the NHL, one the CFL, neither can now walk without the aid of a stick, but at least the NHL guys have the nice house, car and bank balance, the CFL guy less so. The worrying thing is, we expect Super League entertainment on salaries less than the very CFL guys who over here are considered poorly paid. Oh and by the way the CFL is considered a bit of a joke sport, mainly because it’s pays players poorly and does everything on the cheap, remind you of anything?

 

 

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2 hours ago, whatmichaelsays said:

I use "Derek from Castleford" as an example persona of the typical RL fan. I too fall into such a bracket (although I'm not quite old enough to have held a ticket for 40 years and I live (for most of the time) in Leeds). But the question is whether there are enough of people like us? The evidence suggests that there may not be and you can either shrug your shoulders and accept that, or acknowledge that something has to change. 

I think my point about over-catering to Des from Cas is a fair one. The game is very good at making sure that it caters to the one person that buys 20 match tickets a year, but very bad at catering to the 20 people who might each buy one match ticket a year. 

Take yourself out of that persona and try to look at RL as an 'outsider' - a first time fan. Does a typical English RL game look like the sort of you'd willingly spend money on? Does it look like a vibrant, popular, exciting product that you'd want to spend your money on? Or does it look like something that not that many people are bothered about, delivered on the cheap and nothing special compared to the many, many other ways you can spend your money in the modern leisure market? This isn't about 'Corey and Rihanna' as you glibly put it, but about broadening the game's appeal generally.

Magic Weekend is a classic missed opportunity - it's essentially the same thing we always sell, sold to the people we always sell to - only with the added hassle of getting to Newcastle thrown in. It could be delivered in a way that doesn't upset Des from Cas too much, but is different enough to appeal to more than just him and his ilk. 

Loop fixtures are another example of how the wrong attitude keeps us in our usual bubble. The clubs know they aren't popular, but they persist with them anyway because they perpetuate the myth that they are necessary. Loop fixtures are only 'necessary' if you look at things purely from a perspective of utility maximisation - sweating the assets if you will - rather than from the perspective of how we add value to the product. The band of accountants and lawyers that run our clubs all have that 'utility maximisation' mindset (as you'd expect an accountant to have), so they would much rather extract as much out of the players as possible, rather than investing in the product and the players to add value and create something that more people would be willing to pay more for. 

As for what we can or should do, I think the sport firstly needs to get rid of this hubris that "we're a great product", look at what we can learn from other sports and even other businesses and actually get the basic 'four Ps' of marketing right. 

Personally, if I was at the RFL, I'd massively rebrand and overhaul things like the Challenge Cup - it just looks tired and dated. Why would a casual fan go to that when other sporting events offer so much more for their entry fee? That burk from Rugby AM shouting at people through a megaphone does not a fan park make. Let's actually work out what we want the Challenge Cup to be because at the moment, it isn't appealing to anyone and it seems like the only reason we're persisting with it is because "that's what we've always done". 

I'd look at pricing. The game simply has to get off this treadmill of discounting that it has been stuck on for far too long. Existing fans have got used to the discounting and when it comes to new fans, we're arguably at a point where our cheap prices, in comparison to other sports, are doing us a disservice. If we look too cheap, people won't believe us when we say that we're better than the competition. If you want an example (and perhaps an analogy for RL comes across) it's a lot easier to sell Ed Sheeran for $100 than it is for $2

I'd put greater onus on the clubs to promote themselves more effectively. I'd make aspects of central funding contingent on clubs delivering commercial growth and I would modify the salary cap to an FFP model, preventing under-performing clubs from holding back those that can grow. 

We have to make this sport easier to buy. In a world where I can order something from the other side of the world and it'll be at my door in a few days, it's frankly stupid that we insist that, in order to be a "proper" RL fan, you have to live within a narrow band of land in the north of England. For the months of the year that I'm not living in Leeds it is very difficult for me, even as an RL fan, to "buy" RL. That's just dumb. 

And yes, I'll shake this hornets nest again, I'd introduce alternative forms of the sport such as 7s or 9s. We have to acknowledge that whilst Des from Cas might love the intricacies of a forward battle, many people don't. Instead, they want to see the flair players doing their stuff, creating viral moments and delivering the unexpected. Done right, it could go a long way to challenging the perception of RL being a sport where northern blokes watch fatter northern blokes fight over an egg in the same way that T20 changed the perception that cricket was just something for pensioners to fall asleep to. 

Yes, Des from Cas might not like the idea of a 9s weekend in London or Manchester surrounded by people who use Twittergram and Facetube, but he'll still be able to watch the derby with Wakefield the following week and nobody would begrudge him that pleasure. 

One of the best posts I have seen on this forum recently SPOT ON.

The biggest problem that RL has in this country is the small fan base the RFL/SL are promoting to the same group over and over again.

We need to create a whole new group of fans that come to 1/2/3 matches a year and the ONLY way to do this is through INTERNATIONALS there is NO OTHER WAY.

Bloody hell this isn't Einstein for gods sake someone GET A GRIP.

 

Paul

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12 minutes ago, Harry Stottle said:

Thank you for that, I am not disagreeing with anything that you say, I would agree to most things that would make our game more popular and entice people in, irrespective of Ethel and myself preferring to stay in the pub until kick off time, but as you state we are not the target audience, simply put we are the converted with a limited shelf life. 

You quite obviously - well you do to me being a novice in such matters - seem very well versed in these intracsies you so eloquently describe. So who is it up to set in motion this apparently life saving system of enticing a whole new audience, should it be a directive from the governing body to invest 'X' amount from the subsistence fund the clubs recieve, or considering it is the individual clubs who will gain from whatever the investment is should they bite the bullet and go for it .................. do you see it ever happening?

It's a bit of column A and  bit of column B. The problems I'm talking about here are both club and governing-body issues. 

Anyone who remembers the last thread will remember that I don't necessarily agree with some other posters on this, but I think the clubs need to be much more proactive in taking the lead in their respective markets and essentially taking responsibility for their own destiny, with the governing body having a broader remit that includes a bit of 'carrot and stick' to push the clubs. I know some people disagree with that view, but we've had that discussion. 

Will it happen? Very unlikely. As I said earlier, with the possible exception of Simon Moran, the sport is basically run by ecomomists that simply focus on economic principles of utility maximisation, rather than by people who understand consumer behaviour and how you can add value to the product. Tell Michael Carter that he should invest an extra 10% in marketing and he'll look at you like you're a lunatic - he'd rather squeeze another two loop fixtures into the calendar because he can then get another two rounds of ticket sales out of the already knackered and underpaid players. 

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14 minutes ago, ATLANTISMAN said:

One of the best posts I have seen on this forum recently SPOT ON.

The biggest problem that RL has in this country is the small fan base the RFL/SL are promoting to the same group over and over again.

We need to create a whole new group of fans that come to 1/2/3 matches a year and the ONLY way to do this is through INTERNATIONALS there is NO OTHER WAY.

Bloody hell this isn't Einstein for gods sake someone GET A GRIP.

 

Paul

No we need to create a whole new group of fans who'll come to a lot more than just 1/2/3 matches a year, because in time all of us existing fans will die off and new regular fans will be needed to sustain the sport then.

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5 minutes ago, Big Picture said:

No we need to create a whole new group of fans who'll come to a lot more than just 1/2/3 matches a year, because in time all of us existing fans will die off and new regular fans will be needed to sustain the sport then.

Not necessarily. We exclude a lot of potential new fans if we take a view that they're practically worthless to us until they buy a season ticket. 

I'm convinced that there will never be an NFL or MLB team in London, but it doesn't stop those respective sports from trying to sell to people who will only ever buy tickets 1-4 times a year. 

We shouldn't dismiss the value of people who can't or don't want to make a season-long commitment. The more people we get watching this sport and the more demand we can create for it - even from a mass of casual fans - the more valuable we make it to broadcasters, to sponsors and to Joe Public who might be tempted to see what all the fuss is about. 

Edited by whatmichaelsays
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8 hours ago, Harry Stottle said:

to kick-start a project of "Meaningful Expansion".

Harry, Harry "Meaningful Expansion" is just a meaningless phrase, a ghost people like to dig up even though we've no idea what it looks like. In some scenarios it looks it appears to be years of amateur messing around with no way to progress and getting leathered whenever they meet anyone even half way decent but making a nice if irrelevant appearance being trounced in a WC qualifier, but it doesn't disturb the UK equilibrium, so all in all  the perfect model.


RL1.JPG.6a10be03c5528650e188f078de012540.JPG

 

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8 hours ago, Harry Stottle said:

No it hasn't and you know that, where is just one of Mr Perez's 1000's of ready made for Rugby League North American athletes, where is Mr Argyle's "wanting to put a rugby ball" into the hands of Toronto kids - forgive my ignorance but considering he own's a Rugby League club I assumed he meant a Rugby League ball and he would be doing something to promote the game for participants in the communities. 

"Expansion" into Canada was a wonderful concept set out to grow the sport, but allI the Hierarchy of the Wolfpack want to do us bring the circus to town, if there was something positve going on in the communities I would be the first to stand and applaud, but there is not even a flicker of assistance to kick-start a project of "Meaningful Expansion".

You have got to realize that without any infrastructure once the novelty begins to wear thin and the batteries run down the longevity of the sport will start to wane, wake up and smell the coffee K'man you are far too smart not to realise that is true.

Patience is a virtue Harry.

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8 hours ago, Harry Stottle said:

No.

I'm holding you to it Harry...I think they just might make it!

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52 minutes ago, Oldbear said:

Totally agree, also we want our players to be low paid, especially relative to other contact sports. Rugby League at the professional level, like professional RU, soccer and gridiron, takes a huge toll on the participants bodies, many are left with life changing injuries, often unable to live an active life into retirement, yet we expect them to be paid way less than their peers. Three of my customers are retired pro athletes, two played in the NHL, one the CFL, neither can now walk without the aid of a stick, but at least the NHL guys have the nice house, car and bank balance, the CFL guy less so. The worrying thing is, we expect Super League entertainment on salaries less than the very CFL guys who over here are considered poorly paid. Oh and by the way the CFL is considered a bit of a joke sport, mainly because it’s pays players poorly and does everything on the cheap, remind you of anything?

 

 

That is why we need to raise the cap or al least allow 3 marquee players old Bear/

Edited by Kayakman

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5 hours ago, sweaty craiq said:

When it boils down to it we have one huge problem in UK RL, we do it on the cheap, we are seen as being on the cheap, we have fans who demand it on the cheap, we have fans who do their best to drive out new money coming in, we cater for the cheap clubs, we employ cheap leaders with little or no ability to grow a business, sponsors see us as cheap, media see us as cheap - and we like a damn good moan about it all.

Unless we raise the bar and have a joined up approach to expansion ie they bring wealth to the table not take from it, then we will be this cheap sport supported by cheap fans on cheap wages. FFS even Greggs reinvented themselves away from being cheap

The pricing of RL is completely nuts when you look at it objectively. 

We persist with this "the product is brilliant" shtick but it simply isn't believable when it comes to pricing. 

If the product is so brilliant, why do we have to sell it on Groupon? If the product is so brilliant, why don't those Huddersfield fans that got into those "everyone goes free" games come back? If the product is so brilliant, why do its core fans wait until discount codes come out? How many "brilliant" products get discounted to the extent that RL does?

The claim that the product is brilliant simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny when it comes to price, and that's the 'hubris' I mentioned earlier. We can't claim to be better than Rugby Union or more exciting than football and then be less than half the price - people simply won't believe it. 

There isn't actually anything inherently wrong with being 'cheap' - you can make a success of being cheap but again, you have to make it believable. 

When the low-cost airlines came on the scene, did any of them go "we're just as good as British Airways, but we're half the price"? No, because people wouldn't trust it - and they'd assume that the planes were knackered, the maintenance was done on the cheap and that the pilots weren't trained.

Instead, they made a point of spelling out why they are cheap, pointing out what you didn't get, and turning it into a strength. 

It's hard to do that with sport, but what you certainly can't do is go "we're better than those other sports - the product is brilliant in fact - and we're less than half the price of a day at Twickenham". People will completely distrust you before they have even seen you. 

 

Edited by whatmichaelsays
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53 minutes ago, scotchy1 said:

Amateur clubs provide training and experience for those players prior to that. 

And they get those lads of the magic tree I suppose, you really are a barnpot.

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1 hour ago, scotchy1 said:

If you arguing that clubs like Leigh Centurions provide juniors for amateur sides you are lying and you know it. Whatever their outreach, dont try and claim the work done by amateur volunteers is done by lazy chequebook owners like Beaumont. 

Amateur volunteers don’t recruit kids at the school gates, kids migrate to jnr rugby because their dad played, their mates play, they watch a team or watch the sport and wish to emulate a player. After years of being in the wilderness the town of Leigh virtually stopped producing players of SL standard 

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5 hours ago, ATLANTISMAN said:

We need to create a whole new group of fans that come to 1/2/3 matches a year and the ONLY way to do this is through INTERNATIONALS there is NO OTHER WAY.

I don't think it's sensible to assume that internationals are the ONLY way, and therefore to dismiss all other possibilities.

Also, you need more than just saying 'play more internationals'. When, where, what teams, etc.? You need a carefully worked out strategy.

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11 hours ago, scotchy1 said:

If you arguing that clubs like Leigh Centurions provide juniors for amateur sides you are lying and you know it. Whatever their outreach, dont try and claim the work done by amateur volunteers is done by lazy chequebook owners like Beaumont. 

You just don't have a clue what goes on in the communities do you, not one ounce of practical expierience just a thought process that keeps nagging away fabricating things that may suit your argument, but are so far away from the truth. 

 

9 hours ago, sweaty craiq said:

Amateur volunteers don’t recruit kids at the school gates, kids migrate to jnr rugby because their dad played, their mates play, they watch a team or watch the sport and wish to emulate a player. After years of being in the wilderness the town of Leigh virtually stopped producing players of SL standard 

I did, and two of those lads had very long carrears in SL, one even played for GB, like I said you just haven't got a 'kin clue.

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9 hours ago, sweaty craiq said:

Amateur volunteers don’t recruit kids at the school gates, kids migrate to jnr rugby because their dad played, their mates play, they watch a team or watch the sport and wish to emulate a player. After years of being in the wilderness the town of Leigh virtually stopped producing players of SL standard 

How far do you want to go back, brainbox.

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