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I’ve been thinking after the uproar in football about the European Super League comparing it to rugby league there’s similarities however the rugby league media doesn’t make a fuss about it.
 

For example the 11 clubs have most of the money and power and have not let Leigh have the same amount of central funding as them to make sure the 11 don’t get relegated. 
 

The Bradford Bulls saga. Wood led RFL buying the Odsal lease then eventually buying the Bulls as well as the farce of keeping them in the Championship after they were liquidated.

The narrow mindset of the SL that is against expansion (see first point about Leigh). Toronto being let in but not given and central funding. The lack of a plan about what to do with North America, Toulouse, Newcastle, London ect.

The doomed breakaway by the SL and the infighting between them and the RFL.

It seems to me that the rl media are scared to challenge the people at the top about these issues. For all the good journalism in rl there does not seem to be enough effort on the big topics in the game. The media should be putting pressure on clubs and administrators to do what’s best for the game and not just the clubs. 

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13 minutes ago, Mr Plow said:

I’ve been thinking after the uproar in football about the European Super League comparing it to rugby league there’s similarities however the rugby league media doesn’t make a fuss about it.
 

For example the 11 clubs have most of the money and power and have not let Leigh have the same amount of central funding as them to make sure the 11 don’t get relegated. 
 

The Bradford Bulls saga. Wood led RFL buying the Odsal lease then eventually buying the Bulls as well as the farce of keeping them in the Championship after they were liquidated.

The narrow mindset of the SL that is against expansion (see first point about Leigh). Toronto being let in but not given and central funding. The lack of a plan about what to do with North America, Toulouse, Newcastle, London ect.

The doomed breakaway by the SL and the infighting between them and the RFL.

It seems to me that the rl media are scared to challenge the people at the top about these issues. For all the good journalism in rl there does not seem to be enough effort on the big topics in the game. The media should be putting pressure on clubs and administrators to do what’s best for the game and not just the clubs. 

Fair observations. 

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Football is a national obsession, the modern day opium of the people. Rugby League is a niche sport played in a small area of the country, it’s difficult to make a meaningful comparison between media coverage of the two sadly. 

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14 minutes ago, Chris22 said:

https://www.totalrl.com/fans-question-rfl-super-league-competence/

This very much feeds into the 'state of the game' debate.

I agree with most but not all aspects of the letter, especially the timing of the Super League Show.

Good article, making many points that I'd certainly like to hear answers to

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I don't have much of an issue with our best players leaving to play Rugby League in Australia, compared with losing any of our FT or PT players leaving to play union at any level anywhere.....

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17 hours ago, Mr Plow said:

The media should be putting pressure on clubs and administrators to do what’s best for the game and not just the clubs. 

The administrators ARE the clubs, not some independent governing body. Unlike the FA, ECB, RFU etc - which have independent revenue streams and gather power from thousands of community clubs - the RFL is controlled by the 30 odd English professional clubs. 

In reality it's a private members club, not a national governing body, and the only debates within it are whether the richest and biggest members of the private club should have a bit more money/autonomy. 

There are historical reasons why this is the case, and RL probably wouldn't have survived without it, but we shouldn't expect the RFL to be capable of 'whole game' thinking when it's power is derived from the member clubs. 

Could this be changed? I suppose in theory the government could compel certain structures and regulate the sport much more closely, but I doubt they will. Football is fundamental to the national identity, which the government cites to justify it's new found willingness to interfere in private activities. For most other sports, including RL, I don't think it will see that as it's role. 

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I think the comparision with RL and what happened in football last week are two very different things. 

The situation in football is that there is a cohort of clubs that are basically trying to keep themselves warm by burning money and, now that the money is running out, they need to find some more money to burn. Except they don't know how warm they can keep themselves each year because they don't know whether they can bank on UCL funding, especially when there is a well-run Leicester City, a West Ham that seems to have their stuff together, an Everton club looking to build a new stadium, a Wolves team that has given the bigger clubs a bloody nose and, arguably over time, a Leeds United that may have the potential to shake some trees.

It's much more risk-free to just ask your mates at JP Morgan to fund a closed shop where these "smaller clubs" aren't buzzing around like wasps at a picnic, and doing so is also much easier than questioning why you're engaged in this financial arms race that necessitates paying Gareth Bale €15m a year to play golf. 

In football, it is arguably the richest clubs that are the most poorly run, burning through cash year after year, which is why the dirty dozen need this, even if wider football doesn't. At the risk of making a gross simplification and a statement that is very easily attacked, RL probably has the opposite problem, which is why we have these issues with funding and the salary cap not growing.  

The reason why clubs like Leicester, Wolves and West Ham are able to take a bite out of Manchester United's Champions League pie is because the finance that has come into the Premier League has had a "rising tide lifts all boats" effect. These clubs, when well run, can compete for talent and be competitive. What we have in RL is that the smaller clubs aren't really taking a bite out of anyone's pie whilst, at the same time, the tide seems to be going out. That's what massively effects the quality of the product, the quality of the fan experience and the game's ability to attract and retain talent. 

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2 hours ago, whatmichaelsays said:

I think the comparision with RL and what happened in football last week are two very different things. 

The situation in football is that there is a cohort of clubs that are basically trying to keep themselves warm by burning money and, now that the money is running out, they need to find some more money to burn. Except they don't know how warm they can keep themselves each year because they don't know whether they can bank on UCL funding,

Simularities though. We have 11 clubs fighting over a pie that gets smaller and smaller and are doing everything they can to keep their heads above water rather than doing what’s best for the game which will benefit all of them in the long run

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4 hours ago, Eddie said:

Football is a national obsession, the modern day opium of the people. Rugby League is a niche sport played in a small area of the country, it’s difficult to make a meaningful comparison between media coverage of the two sadly. 

I wasn’t expecting national media to start calling out clubs and administrators I was saying how the rl media don’t do that. 

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1 hour ago, Mr Plow said:

I wasn’t expecting national media to start calling out clubs and administrators I was saying how the rl media don’t do that. 

I think the problem, well not necessarily problem but issue, is that the RL community is small and everyone knows eachother, so it’s less easy to call people out. Plus as the game is so fragile, maybe people don’t want to risk it in case it harms the sport. Unlike in say football for example, where it wouldn’t do any harm at all. 

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34 minutes ago, Eddie said:

I think the problem, well not necessarily problem but issue, is that the RL community is small and everyone knows eachother, so it’s less easy to call people out. Plus as the game is so fragile, maybe people don’t want to risk it in case it harms the sport. Unlike in say football for example, where it wouldn’t do any harm at all. 

I’ll agree with you there, people don’t want to upset anyone. I believe John Davidson was banned from Leigh for writing something about them, I think someone else was banned from Wakefield. 
 

To your second point I’d say that not calling people and or issues out does more harm than ignoring them. Tbh I think the main issue is people not wanting to fall out or upset others in the game

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10 hours ago, Chris22 said:

https://www.totalrl.com/fans-question-rfl-super-league-competence/

This very much feeds into the 'state of the game' debate.

I agree with most but not all aspects of the letter, especially the timing of the Super League Show.

Some great and valid points raised in this - I haven't seen it before. I'd be keen to add - 

Strategy - What is the actual 'vision' for Super League - is it a UK comp? Is it a Anglo-French comp? Is it a Northern Hemisphere comp (in the long term) although the now demise of Toronto from the SL tells us experiment failed. Soccer news aside, Super League was launched as SL Europe, with a strategic vision for UK cities, and French city club involvement. For me, there's been zero strategy since it's inception. Does any RL fan currently know the vision for the SL comp?

Loop Fixtures - we know its there due to financial need through revenue. However, we also know loop fixtures do not attract the same level of paying fans to them. It's fixture overkill, when you consider play offs, challenge cup etc.... what is the strategy longer term to move away for loop fixtures? Could we see International fixtures replacing them?...which leads on to....

INTERNATIONALS!!! - What is the medium to long term plan to see England playing France, Wales etc.... The game cannot continue to exist alone on SL and expect to experience growth. Internationals are currently an 'afterthought' at the end of the season, when players are exhausted physically from the demands of a full season with loop fixtures on top. 

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8 hours ago, whatmichaelsays said:

I think the comparision with RL and what happened in football last week are two very different things. 

The situation in football is that there is a cohort of clubs that are basically trying to keep themselves warm by burning money and, now that the money is running out, they need to find some more money to burn. Except they don't know how warm they can keep themselves each year because they don't know whether they can bank on UCL funding, especially when there is a well-run Leicester City, a West Ham that seems to have their stuff together, an Everton club looking to build a new stadium, a Wolves team that has given the bigger clubs a bloody nose and, arguably over time, a Leeds United that may have the potential to shake some trees.

It's much more risk-free to just ask your mates at JP Morgan to fund a closed shop where these "smaller clubs" aren't buzzing around like wasps at a picnic, and doing so is also much easier than questioning why you're engaged in this financial arms race that necessitates paying Gareth Bale €15m a year to play golf. 

In football, it is arguably the richest clubs that are the most poorly run, burning through cash year after year, which is why the dirty dozen need this, even if wider football doesn't. At the risk of making a gross simplification and a statement that is very easily attacked, RL probably has the opposite problem, which is why we have these issues with funding and the salary cap not growing.  

The reason why clubs like Leicester, Wolves and West Ham are able to take a bite out of Manchester United's Champions League pie is because the finance that has come into the Premier League has had a "rising tide lifts all boats" effect. These clubs, when well run, can compete for talent and be competitive. What we have in RL is that the smaller clubs aren't really taking a bite out of anyone's pie whilst, at the same time, the tide seems to be going out. That's what massively effects the quality of the product, the quality of the fan experience and the game's ability to attract and retain talent. 

Crikey.....this is the best post I’ve seen on this forum like ever.  I agree with every last word of it.

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We can all create whinge lists about how the sport is run. It's even easier if you don't come up with any proposals or solutions and this letter doesn't offer much apart from the sort of well-trodden stuff you'll have found on forums like this for decades.

Does that mean the sport has been making the same mistakes for decades? Perhaps. More likely the sports market is very mature and very saturated with lots of pre-existing biases and affiliations and we have limited resources to effect cut-through.

The problem with the sort of long laundry list found in this letter is that the real, long-term issues - especially the urgent need for strong and empowered RFL governance, independent of the clubs - are lost amongst, frankly, trivia about what name to give the top flight or whether a five or six team play off structure is better. Giving a large chunk of space to some conspiracy theory about a Yorkshire bias in ground improvements is a tedious distraction if you think you have a serious point to make.

Moreover a lot of it just seems to be disconnected from a core understanding of what Rugby League is. It isn't rugby union and it certainly isn't football and comparing it with those is of limited value. Rugby League is a highly regional, very localised sport. Where it is strong it is usually, by the standards of these things, very strong but beyond that it is almost invisible. The whole structure and economy of the game revolves around this almost unique circumstance and TV deals and media coverage and sponsorship and finances reflect that. British Rugby League's identity and culture has been eternally shaped by this dichotomy - its localism fires much of what we love about it; its localism drives much of what we despair about it.

Likewise we all love our own clubs but too often its our club which is conspiring with others to protect their place at the expense of the sport's greater good. The clubs hold the power in the sport and effectively decide what money goes where. They are content to have a weak central authority which, from what I can tell, does its best to fund what it can from the revenues it retains. The RFL by no means makes all the correct decisions and I'm not particularly convinced by the current key office holder but for significant change to happen we are reliant on the clubs surrendering both some of their money and their power. And the latter may mean the RFL makes unpleasant decisions about structures and funding which directly and negatively affect the short-term fates of particular clubs.

It's great that people care enough about our sport to engage like this. But firing off in all directions about short-term complaints and historic slights isn't, I feel, particularly helpful when there are a couple of key issues which need genuine attention.

Edited by M j M
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