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Rfl announce expansion and growth plan


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8 hours ago, Barley Mow said:

I'd like to hope it isn't a one-off opportunity. Surely Toulouse would contiune to press for promotion from the Championship through the normal (on the field) route, as would the other clubs who aren't successful now.

Please,  Toulouse was heading the 2020 Championship when he stopped !

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3 hours ago, Gooleboy said:

So what will Toulouse do for French International RL that Catalans have failed to do?

Not a lot if quotas aren’t forced upon Catalan and Toulouse.

potentially 2 French teams in super league raises the prospect of new investment and a domestic tv deal that would increase the visibility and raise the profile of RL in France both in terms of people watching the game and playing the game at the grassroots levels.

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4 hours ago, Gooleboy said:

So what will Toulouse do for French International RL that Catalans have failed to do?

Coaching will also have a lot to do with it, as others have said Catalans under Potter was a lot more supportive of French talent, much will depend on Toulouse’s coaching staff should they make it to SL.

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9 hours ago, Gooleboy said:

So what will Toulouse do for French International RL that Catalans have failed to do?

They more trust in young french players. The Toulouse area is an enormous reservoir of unrecognized rugby talents.

 

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9 hours ago, Gooleboy said:

So what will Toulouse do for French International RL that Catalans have failed to do?

Surely it is a bit of a numbers game. There will be a point where the number of professional French players results in a qualitative improvement in the French team. When New Zealand won the World Cup in 2008 I seem to remember that someone commented on here that there were about 60-70 Kiwi qualified players playing  the NRL. There was also one player from Wigan of course but less than half the World Cup squad were at New Zealand Warriors.
 

Since Catalans have come in the number of French players playing in super league has noticeably  gone up. What Toulouse might do is increase the pool of French qualified players further. 

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5 minutes ago, westlondonfan said:

Since Catalans have come in the number of French players playing in super league has noticeably  gone up. What Toulouse might do is increase the pool of French qualified players further. 

Yes and it's amazing just how much the influx of French players is ignored in this debate.

Judging by the live stream games I've seen recently the standard is on the up generally which is the other thing people like to dismiss. And no I'm not blind to the errors made.

 

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2 warning points:kolobok_dirol:

#CorbynwasrightandFordesaidso!  Trusscouldn'tcareless v Keith AWOL Tory vast majority in the making.

 

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14 hours ago, Big Picture said:

Yes the M62 is a major weakness.  Those M62 towns are "smallish, economically disadvantaged towns" according to former St Helens CEO Sean McGuire, who says that as a consequence the traditional RL clubs face financial issues which their counterparts in other sports "can't even imagine".

The Midlands and London suburbia give their RU counterparts a much healthier economic base and a lot more money coming in their doors.

That's rubbish.  RU fans are positive not like the usual chip on the shoulder RL fan.  RU is based around the M5/M4.  They don't moan about that.  The real benefit RU have is a wide International presence (No matter how ordinary we think it)...  And that has to be propped up be importing overseas players.

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15 hours ago, Big Picture said:

Yes the M62 is a major weakness.  Those M62 towns are "smallish, economically disadvantaged towns" according to former St Helens CEO Sean McGuire, who says that as a consequence the traditional RL clubs face financial issues which their counterparts in other sports "can't even imagine".

The Midlands and London suburbia give their RU counterparts a much healthier economic base and a lot more money coming in their doors.

Whether you believe that to be the issue or not, the reality is that as the sport is at the present time. The sport can't simply act as if its problems can't be solved until it has, or that they will only be solved with, clubs in exotic places. 

This is the folly of seeing expansion as a problem of geography. It isn't. It's a problem of audience. It's a problem of not enough people demanding or accessing rugby league content - by whatever medium that is. Geography is part of the solution - but it is not a solution in itself. 

Seeing expansion as a geography problem doesn't solve the problem, and creates plenty of other problems besides. 

  • It creates a problem that the game will never solve because half of the game doesn't think it can be solved, whilst the other sees it as a problem it doesn't want to solve because doing so is an existential threat. As a result, we go from one half-hearted token "expansion" effort to another. 
  • It lets the clubs 'off the hook' for failing to address the real problem, which is one of audience. If we see the problem as "people in London don't watch rugby league", why is that Wigan's, Leeds' or Wakefield's problem to solve? If we start framing it as a problem of audience, it is very much their problem to solve. 
  • It therefore makes you reliant on millionaires to come along with an idea to take a punt on putting a club in an area of their choosing - the pins in maps approach. 
  • Without adapting the game to appeal to more diverse audiences, that millionaire, as well as the existing clubs, are largely reliant on looking for "people like us". Let's not forget that, to most of the public, we're the weirdos that like this game. If we don't see this as a problem of audience, then our clubs are reliant on finding an untapped market more weirdos like us who like this game for what it is.
  • It means that the flimsy justification for loop fixtures, games that nobody wants in the calendar apart from the club chairmen, goes unchallenged. See the problem as an audience problem - the fact that the audience for what we're offering isn't big enough - and the argument for changing that is more obvious to even the most unambitious of Michael Carters. 
  • Seeing this as a geography problem creates massive blind spots for the sport. We have clubs who can't grow their crowds, who still have to resort to giving tickets away on the cheap and. to my recollection, we've only had three Grand Finals that were officially "sold out" the and the closest we have come to selling-out the new Wembley was ten years ago. Those aren't issues of geography and they aren't issues of "playing in impovrished northern towns". They're issues of not appealing to enough people. 

The sport has to stop seeing this as a problem of location, stop seeing audiences as only valuable if they're buying a ticket to the next game (the new TV deal, I fear, will demonstrate just how valuable non-match going fans are) and stop being obsessed about the short-term. Everything the clubs do is focused on selling this year's season tickets, this season's shirt and the next game's hospitality. Hardly anyone has had their eye on the long-term - what the new fan five years from now is doing today - and the result is that the sport is playing catch-up in some key areas where it could be using TV, digital, PR and social to build an audience and create demand. The fact that the criteria for the 12 SL club only mentions Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as social media metrics, ignoring the plethora of other social platforms that younger audiences are using, just shows how the process is being run by dinosaurs. 

I think expanding the geography is important, but it's a complete distraction from the real issues. 

 

Edited by whatmichaelsays
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29 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

Whether you believe that to be the issue or not, the reality is that as the sport is at the present time. The sport can't simply act as if its problems can't be solved until it has, or that they will only be solved with, clubs in exotic places. 

This is the folly of seeing expansion as a problem of geography. It isn't. It's a problem of audience. It's a problem of not enough people demanding or accessing rugby league content - by whatever medium that is. Geography is part of the solution - but it is not a solution in itself. 

Seeing expansion as a geography problem doesn't solve the problem, and creates plenty of other problems besides. 

  • It creates a problem that the game will never solve because half of the game doesn't think it can be solved, whilst the other sees it as a problem it doesn't want to solve because doing so is an existential threat. As a result, we go from one half-hearted token "expansion" effort to another. 
  • It lets the clubs 'off the hook' for failing to address the real problem, which is one of audience. If we see the problem as "people in London don't watch rugby league", why is that Wigan's, Leeds' or Wakefield's problem to solve? If we start framing it as a problem of audience, it is very much their problem to solve. 
  • It therefore makes you reliant on millionaires to come along with an idea to take a punt on putting a club in an area of their choosing - the pins in maps approach. 
  • Without adapting the game to appeal to more diverse audiences, that millionaire, as well as the existing clubs, are largely reliant on looking for "people like us". Let's not forget that, to most of the public, we're the weirdos that like this game. If we don't see this as a problem of audience, then our clubs are reliant on finding an untapped market more weirdos like us who like this game for what it is.
  • It means that the flimsy justification for loop fixtures, games that nobody wants in the calendar apart from the club chairmen, goes unchallenged. See the problem as an audience problem - the fact that the audience for what we're offering isn't big enough - and the argument for changing that is more obvious to even the most unambitious of Michael Carters. 
  • Seeing this as a geography problem creates massive blind spots for the sport. We have clubs who can't grow their crowds, who still have to resort to giving tickets away on the cheap and. to my recollection, we've only had three Grand Finals that were officially "sold out" the and the closest we have come to selling-out the new Wembley was ten years ago. Those aren't issues of geography and they aren't issues of "playing in impovrished northern towns". They're issues of not appealing to enough people. 

The sport has to stop seeing this as a problem of location, stop seeing audiences as only valuable if they're buying a ticket to the next game (the new TV deal, I fear, will demonstrate just how valuable non-match going fans are) and stop being obsessed about the short-term. Everything the clubs do is focused on selling this year's season tickets, this season's shirt and the next game's hospitality. Hardly anyone has had their eye on the long-term - what the new fan five years from now is doing today - and the result is that the sport is playing catch-up in some key areas where it could be using TV, digital, PR and social to build an audience and create demand. The fact that the criteria for the 12 SL club only mentions Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as social media metrics, ignoring the plethora of other social platforms that younger audiences are using, just shows how the process is being run by dinosaurs. 

I think expanding the geography is important, but it's a complete distraction from the real issues.

It certainly is a problem of audience and demand, and that's related to the sport's geography being limited to those smallish, economically disadvantaged towns.  Tony Collins has pointed out more than once that that the deindustrialization of the north undermined the sport's economic foundation, it's the reason why those towns are economically disadvantaged.  The clubs rely on cheap tickets because those are what their audience can afford.  As other posters have stated, they can't afford to go to Wembley, Magic, the Grand Final, and across to France every year but must pick and choose instead.

The sport does indeed need to expand its audience, so it has to spread its reach.  It has to reach a generation which more than likely sees the smallish, economically disadvantaged towns where its top clubs are located as confirmation of the negative stereotypes about it.  If I'm right about that, then those clubs don't have what is needed to reach them.

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1 hour ago, Big Picture said:

It certainly is a problem of audience and demand, and that's related to the sport's geography being limited to those smallish, economically disadvantaged towns.  Tony Collins has pointed out more than once that that the deindustrialization of the north undermined the sport's economic foundation, it's the reason why those towns are economically disadvantaged.  The clubs rely on cheap tickets because those are what their audience can afford.  As other posters have stated, they can't afford to go to Wembley, Magic, the Grand Final, and across to France every year but must pick and choose instead.

The sport does indeed need to expand its audience, so it has to spread its reach.  It has to reach a generation which more than likely sees the smallish, economically disadvantaged towns where its top clubs are located as confirmation of the negative stereotypes about it.  If I'm right about that, then those clubs don't have what is needed to reach them.

With respect, I don't agree with the conclusion - I think there is an element of curved thinking in that.  

Pre-Covid, if you went into cities like Leeds, Manchester, York or Liverpool, you would see an awful lot of people spending an awful lot of money on leisure. That was money that wasn't being spent on rugby league, but money that rugby league should be looking to tap into - even if we're talking about a small percentage increase in market share. 

In Leeds and Manchester particuarly, we have a concentration of quality jobs in well-paying industries like financial services, legal, creative industries, tech and digital, combined with lower costs of living. There is spending power out there. Many of these "impovrished northern towns" make up the commuter belt that those cities draw their workforces from. 

There are certain parts of the north that, when you drive around the houses, don't strike you as being the sorts of areas where people don't have a spare £40 to spend on a Friday night out or where they couldn't be tempted to tune their HDTVs to Super League on Friday nights. 

What you talk about there is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Grand Final and CC Finals aren't selling out not because people in the north are skint, but because they aren't must-see events with a sense of FOMO. Other successful events are. Our audience can only afford the cheap tickets because that's the audience the clubs are speaking and appealing to. They aren't offering what those other audiences, the ones with higher spending power, want to buy. This is where the pub analogy comes into it - RL is the dated flat-roofed working-mens club wondering why the function room is empty on "Bingo, meat raffile & John Smiths £1.50 a pint night", whilst all the cool people are queuing up outside glass-fronted city centre bars to pay £12.50 for a flavoured gin in a massive glass with weeds poking out of it. RL doesn't have to forsake its current audience, but it can broaden its appeal to new ones. 

If I felt that RL was doing everything it could to mind the untapped markets on its doorstep, then I'd agree that the need to expand the geography is more pressing but nothing you put there addresses the issues I highlighted - that geographic expansion, without expanding the audience, relies on a millionaire taking a punt that in a random city of his chosing, there are enough people like us to sustain a rugby league club that nobody in RL land has found before. 

Edited by whatmichaelsays
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3 hours ago, Jean de Bordeaux said:

They more trust in young french players. The Toulouse area is an enormous reservoir of unrecognized rugby talents.

 

That's fair enough, as long as in a situation when results are vital, they don't forgo that policy and turn to Down Under and sign players just for the short term, which is something that Clubs have historically done. It would be great for the game to see a strong French National Team.

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2 hours ago, whatmichaelsays said:

With respect, I don't agree with the conclusion - I think there is an element of curved thinking in that.  

Pre-Covid, if you went into cities like Leeds, Manchester, York or Liverpool, you would see an awful lot of people spending an awful lot of money on leisure. That was money that wasn't being spent on rugby league, but money that rugby league should be looking to tap into - even if we're talking about a small percentage increase in market share. 

In Leeds and Manchester particuarly, we have a concentration of quality jobs in well-paying industries like financial services, legal, creative industries, tech and digital, combined with lower costs of living. There is spending power out there. Many of these "impovrished northern towns" make up the commuter belt that those cities draw their workforces from. 

There are certain parts of the north that, when you drive around the houses, don't strike you as being the sorts of areas where people don't have a spare £40 to spend on a Friday night out or where they couldn't be tempted to tune their HDTVs to Super League on Friday nights. 

What you talk about there is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Grand Final and CC Finals aren't selling out not because people in the north are skint, but because they aren't must-see events with a sense of FOMO. Other successful events are. Our audience can only afford the cheap tickets because that's the audience the clubs are speaking and appealing to. They aren't offering what those other audiences, the ones with higher spending power, want to buy. This is where the pub analogy comes into it - RL is the dated flat-roofed working-mens club wondering why the function room is empty on "Bingo, meat raffile & John Smiths £1.50 a pint night", whilst all the cool people are queuing up outside glass-fronted city centre bars to pay £12.50 for a flavoured gin in a massive glass with weeds poking out of it. RL doesn't have to forsake its current audience, but it can broaden its appeal to new ones. 

If I felt that RL was doing everything it could to mind the untapped markets on its doorstep, then I'd agree that the need to expand the geography is more pressing but nothing you put there addresses the issues I highlighted - that geographic expansion, without expanding the audience, relies on a millionaire taking a punt that in a random city of his chosing, there are enough people like us to sustain a rugby league club that nobody in RL land has found before. 

McGuire did say that Leeds is a possible exception to what he said about smallish economically disadvantaged towns, and I note that neither Manchester nor Liverpool has an RL clubs.

I agree that RL isn't offering what those other audiences want to buy and even in the north fewer and fewer see the Grand Final and CC Final as big events.  So my question is: what makes you think that a way exists to get Mancunians and Liverpudlians to see a final of any sort involving Warrington, St Helens or Wigan (to say nothing of the smaller clubs in the game) as a big event when big events in other sports hardly ever involve teams from towns like those?

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33 minutes ago, Big Picture said:

McGuire did say that Leeds is a possible exception to what he said about smallish economically disadvantaged towns, and I note that neither Manchester nor Liverpool has an RL clubs.

I agree that RL isn't offering what those other audiences want to buy and even in the north fewer and fewer see the Grand Final and CC Final as big events.  So my question is: what makes you think that a way exists to get Mancunians and Liverpudlians to see a final of any sort involving Warrington, St Helens or Wigan (to say nothing of the smaller clubs in the game) as a big event when big events in other sports hardly ever involve teams from towns like those?

In the same way that you get Liverpudlians or Mancunians to part with their cash for anything else - give them something that they're willing to part with their cash for. 

But I think the way you framed that question kind of demonstrates the problem. The question is not "how can we get people from Liverpool to go to the Grand Final?", because that implies that the problem is largely one of advertising. The question is "how do we make the Grand Final a must-see "FOMO" event that people want to see, regardless of who is in it?". The second question might have a more complicated answer, but it's the right question to ask. 

You say Leeds might be an exception because of the size of it's economy, but Leeds' economy also sustains the "economically disadvantaged" towns around it. Look at (pre-Covid) commuter flows into Leeds from places like Huddersfield, Wakefield and Bradford, or from places like Wigan, Rochdale and Bolton into Manchester. The people in those towns are accessing the much bigger, more prosperous economies of the cities around them and taking that money back with them. 

You seem hung up on trying to make this point that St Helens can't create something worth buying or something that catches people's attention "because they're St Helens and why would anybody be interested in St Helens?". With respect, I would say that's a nonsense and that there is no objective evidence to support that. If Jonny Lomax or Tommy Makinson can do something amazing that goes viral online, people aren't going to switch off just because of where it happened. What the game is selling is not a "town" - what it is (or should) be selling is an entertainment brand. There's a massive difference between the two. 

And even if we take that notion and say it is accurate, I go back to my original reply - that the game is missing out on massive opportunities by pretenting that this is a problem of geography and not one of audience. By framing expansion as a geography issue, you put yourself in the position of waiting for the next millionaire who wants to take a punt that there is an untapped well of people, just like us, who the game hasn't found yet. How long do you want to wait for that to happen? All the while in the meantime, we have clubs who think that they can get by by relying on dads and grandads to drag their reluctant kids to games. 

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