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As a Bears fan I can tell you there's no great secret to the Bears. The are a well run family club which does brilliantly with limited resources. They are not cash rich, and never have been, but they

money, continuity and luck they've got some money, which means they're not hand to mouth ? Why do you think Coventry have money?. They are owned by a young family man who does not put money

Yep. A number of teams in the midlands have always had decent junior set ups but getting them regular games without loads of travel is always a problem. I really believe the midlands can become a majo

22 minutes ago, ShevWig90 said:

In short why are the Coventry Bears still present in the semi-pro ranks while Oxford, Hemel and the All Golds are not? 

What have they done differently to the other 3 and can any other potential expansion clubs learn from them?

money, continuity and luck

they've got some money, which means they're not hand to mouth

they share with a rugby club that has got money, which gives them continuity and hasn't (yet) led to the problems Oxford had* because Cov RU's owner can pay for nice things like hybrid pitches and not need to have the begging bowls out for the RL side too much.

they had the luck to enter league 1 later than the above clubs, so from the start were shaped for the league 1 they're in. GAG, Hemel and Oxford were development clubs scaled for a development league, which is what they were told the then 9 team league 1 was. At the end of the first season, the restructure moved the goalposts, increased costs, and essentially torpedoed their business plans. 

So, in terms of what potential expansion clubs can learn, beyond the obvious (have some cash, try and get tenure somewhere you can bed into, and be lucky) I would say the big one is

- expect the goalposts to move and don't believe any assurances you're given by the governing body.

You've also missed out South Wales Scorpions/Ironmen/West Wales Raiders - they are living proof that if someone's daft enough to keep writing the cheques you can limp on. 

 

 

 

*in Oxford's case they shared with the cash strapped (private, not university owned) OURFC. Who were so cash strapped they'd not done any serious work on their pitch since pre WW2. 

with the increased use, the pitch collapsed over the first season, at the same time as Oxford RL's rent money paid for them to actually do some work on it. So they did, which meant in their second season Oxford spent a lot of time on the road because they couldn't play at Iffley Road. Then OURFC put the rent up**, then Oxford moved to Abingdon.

 

** which sounds greedy, but was actually desperation given that when Oxford RL moved out OURFC had to sell their ground to the university to get a cash injection.

Edited by iffleyox
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2 minutes ago, Spidey said:

I think Coventry worked up the League One well. Good foundations underneath then a couple of years in the NCL, all built up over a number of years

From an outsider looking in the others seemed just to pop up start

which was always the flaw - except that the RFL (AIUI) made them think that the conditions of league 1 had been set up to help that sort of pop up work. Which, for all of the first 12 months of a five year licence, they did.

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Oxford and All Golds appeared a bit unsustainable from the start. Oxford had a good board with Rugby League experience but were essentially a Yorkshire club travelling down to play out of Oxford every other week and All Golds was funded by a University. Hemel lost their way once the “development league” tag was pulled and League One expanded. They got hammered a lot and tried to sacrifice the development of their players for becoming a reserve team for Dewsbury and it never seemed to work, if anything, I think they were worse. 

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29 minutes ago, iffleyox said:

money, continuity and luck

they've got some money, which means they're not hand to mouth

they share with a rugby club that has got money, which gives them continuity and hasn't (yet) led to the problems Oxford had* because Cov RU's owner can pay for nice things like hybrid pitches and not need to have the begging bowls out for the RL side too much.

they had the luck to enter league 1 later than the above clubs, so from the start were shaped for the league 1 they're in. GAG, Hemel and Oxford were development clubs scaled for a development league, which is what they were told the then 9 team league 1 was. At the end of the first season, the restructure moved the goalposts, increased costs, and essentially torpedoed their business plans. 

So, in terms of what potential expansion clubs can learn, beyond the obvious (have some cash, try and get tenure somewhere you can bed into, and be lucky) I would say the big one is

- expect the goalposts to move and don't believe any assurances you're given by the governing body.

You've also missed out South Wales Scorpions/Ironmen/West Wales Raiders - they are living proof that if someone's daft enough to keep writing the cheques you can limp on. 

 

 

 

*in Oxford's case they shared with the cash strapped (private, not university owned) OURFC. Who were so cash strapped they'd not done any serious work on their pitch since pre WW2. 

with the increased use, the pitch collapsed over the first season, at the same time as Oxford RL's rent money paid for them to actually do some work on it. So they did, which meant in their second season Oxford spent a lot of time on the road because they couldn't play at Iffley Road. Then OURFC put the rent up**, then Oxford moved to Abingdon.

 

 

money, continuity and luck

they've got some money, which means they're not hand to mouth

? Why do you think Coventry have money?. They are owned by a young family man who does not put money into the club. The club has to wash its face from the money it gets through the door and sponsorship plus of course it's allowance from the RFL.

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they share with a rugby club that has got money, which gives them continuity and hasn't (yet) led to the problems Oxford had* because Cov RU's owner can pay for nice things like hybrid pitches and not need to have the begging bowls out for the RL side too much.

?

The rugby club gives nothing to the Bears. The Bears pay through the nose for the use of the facilities and are a cash cow to the union club..

------------------------------

they had the luck to enter league 1 later than the above clubs, so from the start were shaped for the league 1 they're in. GAG, Hemel and Oxford were development clubs scaled for a development league, which is what they were told the then 9 team league 1 was. At the end of the first season, the restructure moved the goalposts, increased costs, and essentially torpedoed their business plans. 

No luck about it. Coventry were expecting to join League 1 at the same time as Hemel and All Golds. To their amazement they were sidelined at the last moment when Oxford appeared from nowhere and convinced the RFL that Oxford despite having no history were a better bet. They also had the backing of money through the Rhino kit company.

----------------------

 

- expect the goalposts to move and don't believe any assurances you're given by the governing body.

? I keep here that the goalposts were removed after the new teams had joined. All I can say is that someone didnt read the prospectus. Coventry thought they would be included with Hemel and Cheltenham and thought were going into a league that was exactly the same as they eventually join a year later. No mention of development. The big difference was that Coventry had the years of effort in preparing to step up as they worked through the amatuer structure. The other thing that helps is geography. A bigger target population and even the easier access to roads to the North helped.

 

 

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Ron Banks

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1 hour ago, ShevWig90 said:

In short why are the Coventry Bears still present in the semi-pro ranks while Oxford, Hemel and the All Golds are not? 

What have they done differently to the other 3 and can any other potential expansion clubs learn from them?

Listen to this week’s Forty20 podcast, there’s a section on the 🐻

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51 minutes ago, Bearman said:

 

? Why do you think Coventry have money?. They are owned by a young family man who does not put money into the club. The club has to wash its face from the money it gets through the door and sponsorship plus of course it's allowance from the RFL.

I don't think the Bears are remotely rich, but I do think they've got, as you say, no cashflow issues, That's (relatively) having money. It wasn't intended as saying the Bears are cashed up, it was actually a criticism of the other clubs that folded because even ticking over was a challenge.

------------------

The rugby club gives nothing to the Bears. The Bears pay through the nose for the use of the facilities and are a cash cow to the union club..

I wasn't saying Cov RU give anything to the Bears, I was saying that because John Sharpe can afford a hybrid pitch they're not pushing Bears out on the road while they rebuild the pitch every other month... I don't doubt Bears are paying handsomely for the privilege, but there's through the nose and through the nose... I'll PM you what I mean on that one.

------------------------------

No luck about it. Coventry were expecting to join League 1 at the same time as Hemel and All Golds. To their amazement they were sidelined at the last moment when Oxford appeared from nowhere and convinced the RFL that Oxford despite having no history were a better bet. They also had the backing of money through the Rhino kit company.

fair enough, I was just a fan - not surprising that the story changes depending on who you speak to 

 

Quote

 

 

 

Bottom line - none of that was intended as a criticism of the Bears.

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Just now, Mr Plow said:

They’re a good sustainable club Coventry. Hopefully they can follow Newcastle Thunder at being a well established club outside of the heartlands. 
 

I think in the UK we should be focusing on Newcastle and Coventry as key expansion locations

How many community clubs are in Coventry and the West Midlands?

It would be good if they can help establish a strong and growing community game in the West Midlands. They've a much larger population than the NE too so plenty of room for growth

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4 hours ago, Spidey said:

I think Coventry worked up the League One well. Good foundations underneath then a couple of years in the NCL, all built up over a number of years

From an outsider looking in the others seemed just to pop up start

The key to all of this may have been their NCL involvement for a couple of years.. I think they learned a lot ( as did their then coaches and squad ) in that environment.  You don't have to blast the opposition ( that was never going to happen from them  in the NCL ) to learn what was needed in the upward curve to semi pro status. They were patient , supported by the NCL as to their vision ,and to date it seems to  be working.

Oxford never entered that learning zone . Cheltenham simply tried to do too much to quick but never sought the NCL route and  as for Hemel  they were a disaster thrown out of the RFL structure as a lost cause  and thereafter totally incapable of any semblance of performance in the NCL.

How many times does it have to be said that unless you are someone like Melbourne Storm  this game will only progress from bottom up ?

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5 hours ago, iffleyox said:

money, continuity and luck

they've got some money, which means they're not hand to mouth

they share with a rugby club that has got money, which gives them continuity and hasn't (yet) led to the problems Oxford had* because Cov RU's owner can pay for nice things like hybrid pitches and not need to have the begging bowls out for the RL side too much.

they had the luck to enter league 1 later than the above clubs, so from the start were shaped for the league 1 they're in. GAG, Hemel and Oxford were development clubs scaled for a development league, which is what they were told the then 9 team league 1 was. At the end of the first season, the restructure moved the goalposts, increased costs, and essentially torpedoed their business plans. 

So, in terms of what potential expansion clubs can learn, beyond the obvious (have some cash, try and get tenure somewhere you can bed into, and be lucky) I would say the big one is

- expect the goalposts to move and don't believe any assurances you're given by the governing body.

You've also missed out South Wales Scorpions/Ironmen/West Wales Raiders - they are living proof that if someone's daft enough to keep writing the cheques you can limp on. 

 

 

 

*in Oxford's case they shared with the cash strapped (private, not university owned) OURFC. Who were so cash strapped they'd not done any serious work on their pitch since pre WW2. 

with the increased use, the pitch collapsed over the first season, at the same time as Oxford RL's rent money paid for them to actually do some work on it. So they did, which meant in their second season Oxford spent a lot of time on the road because they couldn't play at Iffley Road. Then OURFC put the rent up**, then Oxford moved to Abingdon.

 

** which sounds greedy, but was actually desperation given that when Oxford RL moved out OURFC had to sell their ground to the university to get a cash injection.

I live 40 miles from Alan Robinson but I’m sure I can hear him laughing as he’s reading it’s the “money” Cov has that’s making the difference. It could be his tears that’s causing the flooding. 
 

In simple terms the Bears haven’t spent beyond their means even if that’s meant they’ve taking a few hammerings on the way. That’s the whole secret. 

 

 

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I can only go on what I read and pick up on forums being several thousand miles away but Coventry seem to be well organized, well run and have a stable home, all things that are needed for successful expansion. They also don’t seem to have made any pie in the Sky promises, which again shows that they are a well run outfit. I hope to see them around for many years.

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I follow Hemel on social media, they seem to have gone right back to the drawing board and are rebuilding nicely as a good little community club with local players.  I wonder what their plans are for the future.  Would NCL division 3 be a realistic goal?  Probably not, given all the travelling involved.  I think NCL would involve more travel than League One, because in League One, at least they had Skolars and Coventry near-ish.

All Golds, Oxford, Scorpions, never looked convincing to me. 

Coventry seem to be going steady, which is great.  Are there any Coventry (not Midlands, but Coventry)-based amateur teams?  I seem to remember Coventry Dragons a few years ago, but I think they folded, which is a shame and I don't know if anyone ever replaced them.

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As a Bears fan I can tell you there's no great secret to the Bears. The are a well run family club which does brilliantly with limited resources. They are not cash rich, and never have been, but they don't spend beyond their means which means that they aren't always competitive. However, they do punch above their weight due to having a clear vision, a good coaching set up, and players that buy into the philosophy. That's not to say they are not ambitious, just realistic and building slowly over time. Each year in the league has been a learning curve but they've got better each year and this year's squad is shaping up to be the best one they've ever had. 

Another thing in their favour is that, while they don't have a huge fan base, they do have a consistent core of fans who come to every game. They average 500 at home games but a large percentage are season ticket holders, and many also buy merch each year (which incidentally is always good) . Additionally they have a good set of very good volunteers which mean that Alan and family can concentrate on improving and making the club better. 

Finally Alan himself has said many times that the step up to the NCL was a massive part of the journey. The club learned what it needed to do to be competitive against heartland teams, and what it means to manage limited resources.

The future looks bright in terms of the community set up with funding for 4 new clubs in the coventry area. While reduced funding following the new TV deal might be an issue I'm confident that the adaptability shown by the club so far will see them in good stead. The plans to deal with covid are evidence of that. 

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3 hours ago, langpark said:

I follow Hemel on social media, they seem to have gone right back to the drawing board and are rebuilding nicely as a good little community club with local players.  I wonder what their plans are for the future.  Would NCL division 3 be a realistic goal?  Probably not, given all the travelling involved.  I think NCL would involve more travel than League One, because in League One, at least they had Skolars and Coventry near-ish.

All Golds, Oxford, Scorpions, never looked convincing to me. 

Coventry seem to be going steady, which is great.  Are there any Coventry (not Midlands, but Coventry)-based amateur teams?  I seem to remember Coventry Dragons a few years ago, but I think they folded, which is a shame and I don't know if anyone ever replaced them.

Hemel won NCL3 the season before entering league 1. They were travelling up n down the country for years, playing the likes of Kippax, Dews Rams ,Huddersfield Underbank Bramley etc. People knew the next TV deal would be far less, and decided to cut there cloth accordingly. The Southern Conference league will get beefed up 2022, n will include play off's with their Northern counterparts. 

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1 hour ago, OriginalMrC said:

As a Bears fan I can tell you there's no great secret to the Bears. The are a well run family club which does brilliantly with limited resources. They are not cash rich, and never have been, but they don't spend beyond their means which means that they aren't always competitive. However, they do punch above their weight due to having a clear vision, a good coaching set up, and players that buy into the philosophy. That's not to say they are not ambitious, just realistic and building slowly over time. Each year in the league has been a learning curve but they've got better each year and this year's squad is shaping up to be the best one they've ever had. 

Another thing in their favour is that, while they don't have a huge fan base, they do have a consistent core of fans who come to every game. They average 500 at home games but a large percentage are season ticket holders, and many also buy merch each year (which incidentally is always good) . Additionally they have a good set of very good volunteers which mean that Alan and family can concentrate on improving and making the club better. 

Finally Alan himself has said many times that the step up to the NCL was a massive part of the journey. The club learned what it needed to do to be competitive against heartland teams, and what it means to manage limited resources.

The future looks bright in terms of the community set up with funding for 4 new clubs in the coventry area. While reduced funding following the new TV deal might be an issue I'm confident that the adaptability shown by the club so far will see them in good stead. The plans to deal with covid are evidence of that. 

This seems to be the impression I got from the outside, I’m really pleased that Coventry have such a stable base and core of volunteers. Of the other teams that were admitted around that time, all seem to be lacking in their off field operations, possibly not true of Hemel, but interesting to see that they have gone back to their community roots. Sometimes there is a temptation to grow too fast and without the infrastructure that can be very damaging long term.

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8 hours ago, OriginalMrC said:

 

The future looks bright in terms of the community set up with funding for 4 new clubs in the coventry area. While reduced funding following the new TV deal might be an issue I'm confident that the adaptability shown by the club so far will see them in good stead. The plans to deal with covid are evidence of that. 

What league would the 4 new clubs play in?

Is there still a Midlands league?

Are there any plans for a West Midlands league?

 

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42 minutes ago, JM2010 said:

What league would the 4 new clubs play in?

Is there still a Midlands league?

Are there any plans for a West Midlands league?

 

I believe they will initially be junior clubs playing each other and other junior clubs in the midlands. 

Yes there is a midlands league. Not as strong as it once was but signs of resurgence with a lot of ambitious clubs.

Not sure of the benefits of having just a West Midlands league so doubt that will ever happen 

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9 hours ago, newbe said:

Hemel won NCL3 the season before entering league 1. They were travelling up n down the country for years, playing the likes of Kippax, Dews Rams ,Huddersfield Underbank Bramley etc. People knew the next TV deal would be far less, and decided to cut there cloth accordingly. The Southern Conference league will get beefed up 2022, n will include play off's with their Northern counterparts. 

The TV deal has never been a part of Tier 4. Wish it had been ( or will be )

Hemel's  vision  for  it's direction of travel was always suspect  but  seemingly now far more realistic.

The improvement / support for the Southern Conference ( technically Tier 4 ) from the RFL must be a priority.. They are so far behind even Regional Leagues at our  Tier 5  up north it's not funny.

 Never heard of play off's with NCL clubs for 2022. Would love it if Southern Conference sides want it ,feel they are ready  and someone pays for the travel !

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19 hours ago, Hela Wigmen said:

Oxford and All Golds appeared a bit unsustainable from the start. Oxford had a good board with Rugby League experience but were essentially a Yorkshire club travelling down to play out of Oxford every other week and All Golds was funded by a University. Hemel lost their way once the “development league” tag was pulled and League One expanded. They got hammered a lot and tried to sacrifice the development of their players for becoming a reserve team for Dewsbury and it never seemed to work, if anything, I think they were worse. 

Nope. Dewsbury offered them a training facility, that's all. Hemel's ultimate problems at this level were geographic - not close enough to London to be able to benefit from the development of London-based players and too far from the northern bases of the other players who could offer something at the C1 level.

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

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1 hour ago, del capo said:

The TV deal has never been a part of Tier 4. Wish it had been ( or will be )

Hemel's  vision  for  it's direction of travel was always suspect  but  seemingly now far more realistic.

The improvement / support for the Southern Conference ( technically Tier 4 ) from the RFL must be a priority.. They are so far behind even Regional Leagues at our  Tier 5  up north it's not funny.

 Never heard of play off's with NCL clubs for 2022. Would love it if Southern Conference sides want it ,feel they are ready  and someone pays for the travel !

I agree. The Southern Conference would benefit from RFL support and could give any ambitious clubs a competitive league to play in before making a step up to semi pro.

I think a key factor in a successful Southern Conference league is the development and strength of the regional leagues below as these are where a lot of the players could be developed and introduced to RL

 

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7 hours ago, JM2010 said:

I agree. The Southern Conference would benefit from RFL support and could give any ambitious clubs a competitive league to play in before making a step up to semi pro.

I think a key factor in a successful Southern Conference league is the development and strength of the regional leagues below as these are where a lot of the players could be developed and introduced to RL

 

The Southern Conference will only develop and strengthen when they develop their own juniors and create pathways off the back of that. Some promising signs of that in Cornwall and Gloucestershire 

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