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League Restructure Thread (Merged Threads)


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2 hours ago, lucky 7 said:

Dexy should have never accepted the terms he did for Leigh to be gifted a super league

Yes he should, the ability to find the 6/7 quality players was the issue due to covid. We are in a great spot financially though having not taken any loans, Dexy hasn't had to tip in for 5 years and well over 500k in the clubs cash account as today.

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7 hours ago, Davo5 said:

They may very well be embarrassed at Leigh’s inclusion but I’d bet they are even more embarrassed by the decision to give them a huge shortfall in funding and denying them the chance of building an adequate squad.

The money is irrelivant , normally in most sports a team wins a league/ GF ,that team has won 80% of their games to make that final / gf ,they know / believe/ have confidence in their team mates , when things are going wrong the ' believe ' they can turn it round , we don't have any of those things 

So we will not win any more games that matter 

It is what it is 

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5 hours ago, sweaty craiq said:

They aren’t, Sky would want LSV in super league due to facilities to broadcast from and atmosphere.

 

Sky would rather broadcast from the Jungle than LSV. It might be harder to work at but all those empty red seats really, really turn people off. LSV vs Huddersfield is however in LSV's favour, it's not quite as empty but neither are great.

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9 hours ago, whatmichaelsays said:

I think there's a lot of over-thinking about what Sky do and don't want to be honest. 

Sky just want bums on sofas. It really is that simple. They want content that gets people sitting on their backside on a Friday night, watching something that will convince them to watch the next one, and the next one, and the next one, and keep doing that so that they're motivated to keep their subscription. It really isn't much more complicated like that. 

All the discussion about whether Sky wants 10 teams, 12 teams, 5 teams, 30 teams, teams in Leigh, teams in Liverpool or teams in Los Angeles is all kind of missing the point. They just want good content that people are happy to pay - and keep paying - to watch because the second that Sky feels that not enough subscriptions rely on RL, it's game over. 

The suggestion that we can do that by reducing the league to ten teams may well be correct, but it strikes me as a classic RL move to consolidate what we have, rather than to actually invest in the product to add value. 

Don't get me wrong, I completely understand the bind that the pandemic has put almost all of our clubs in, but if the sport thinks that it can "penny pinch" it's way out of this problem and preserve the TV deal, I fear that the sport is about to start playing with a big box of matches.

The real question(s) to answer here is whether the presence of two clubs (and you can name whichever two clubs you like) is the reason why Sky (presumably) feels that the quality of the content is not where it expects it to be? Or is the presence of two additional clubs the reason why Sky (presumably) doesn't think that we're delivering them a large and/or diverse enough audience? And I don't think it is. 

sorry but i agree with you these meetings of the RFL mean nothing cos turkeys don't vote for Christmas 

Game run by self centered people 

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14 hours ago, whatmichaelsays said:

If we're basing decisions around how we add value to broadcasters on projections of how many people in Leigh or Salford might, maybe, possibly cancel their Sky subscriptions, then not only are the game's stakeholders showing a massive lack of confidence in the product itself, but also in their own ability to actually enhance the product so that it adds value to broadcasters. 

The world has moved on. Geography is not the game's handicap here. 

Ideally we wouldn't be doing that and subscribers would be drawn to watching the game because of its entertainment value.

But the Sky business model is based on value derived from subscribers.

More specifically, when considering any sport that it currently broadcasts, the major question it asks itself is how many subscribers would we lose if we stopped broadcasting this sport.

In that sense, those people who come to Rugby League occasionally or even quite often, but whose main sport is, for example, football, so wouldn't cancel their subscriptions if Rugby League disappeared, don't figure in the calculation.

It's people like me, who would cancel their Sky subscription if Rugby League wasn't there, who really matter in this argument.

Similarly, when Sky considers a new sport it's a case of how many new subscribers the sport will attract.

On the other hand, if you can suggest ways in which to enhance the number of Sky subscribers to watch Rugby League, thus driving up the value of the Sky deal, rather than making general comments about the world moving on, I'm sure we would be glad to share your ideas.

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18 minutes ago, Martyn Sadler said:

Ideally we wouldn't be doing that and subscribers would be drawn to watching the game because of its entertainment value.

But the Sky business model is based on value derived from subscribers.

More specifically, when considering any sport that it currently broadcasts, the major question it asks itself is how many subscribers would we lose if we stopped broadcasting this sport.

In that sense, those people who come to Rugby League occasionally or even quite often, but whose main sport is, for example, football, so wouldn't cancel their subscriptions if Rugby League disappeared, don't figure in the calculation.

It's people like me, who would cancel their Sky subscription if Rugby League wasn't there, who really matter in this argument.

Similarly, when Sky considers a new sport it's a case of how many new subscribers the sport will attract.

On the other hand, if you can suggest ways in which to enhance the number of Sky subscribers to watch Rugby League, thus driving up the value of the Sky deal, rather than making general comments about the world moving on, I'm sure we would be glad to share your ideas.

I don't think its as cut and dry as that. 

The number of RL specific subscribers will be, in Sky's relative numbers, minimal. The reason Sky have so many different sports and different leagues is because they want people to come in for a range of sports - especially for their minor offerings. And the number of RL fans who also enjoy football, F1, cricket, Golf or, dare I say, RU, means that those other sports supplement people's reasons to keep their sky sports subscriptions.

I'm a big F1 fan, but I wouldn't buy Sky Sports just for that. That they have Leeds Rhinos and Leeds United and other sports that I like makes it more valuable to me. Its targeted at general sports fans. (And in reverse is likewise why I don't have BT sport).

What I think posts on this board are now reflecting is that whereas once the Sky RL games used to be must see for RL fans, more people are now picking and choosing or only watching their team than ever before. I know its a small sample size but given the talk from Sky it is possibly reflective of a wider trend. That means picking the most TV friendly matches is more important than ever.

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7 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

I don't think its as cut and dry as that. 

The number of RL specific subscribers will be, in Sky's relative numbers, minimal. The reason Sky have so many different sports and different leagues is because they want people to come in for a range of sports - especially for their minor offerings. And the number of RL fans who also enjoy football, F1, cricket, Golf or, dare I say, RU, means that those other sports supplement people's reasons to keep their sky sports subscriptions.

I'm a big F1 fan, but I wouldn't buy Sky Sports just for that. That they have Leeds Rhinos and Leeds United and other sports that I like makes it more valuable to me. Its targeted at general sports fans. (And in reverse is likewise why I don't have BT sport).

What I think posts on this board are now reflecting is that whereas once the Sky RL games used to be must see for RL fans, more people are now picking and choosing or only watching their team than ever before. I know its a small sample size but given the talk from Sky it is possibly reflective of a wider trend. That means picking the most TV friendly matches is more important than ever.

I don't disagree with you that a lot of people do watch more than one sport and have various motivations for subscribing to Sky, but I think you're missing the point, which is the valuation of the rights for individual sports.

If Sky pulled out of football, for example, it would lose so many subscribers that the game would be up for it. It couldn't survive without football, which gives football a tremendously strong negotiating position.

No other sport is in that position and ultimately it could probably pull out of all of them and still survive just on football.

I do agree with your last paragraph, however.

Whereas at one time most viewers were happy to watch Rugby League, there seems to be a discernible trend towards wanting to watch only your own club.

 

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2 minutes ago, Martyn Sadler said:

Whereas at one time most viewers were happy to watch Rugby League, there seems to be a discernible trend towards wanting to watch only your own club.

On TV? What evidence do you have to substantiate that comment?

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39 minutes ago, Martyn Sadler said:

It's people like me, who would cancel their Sky subscription if Rugby League wasn't there, who really matter in this argument

No. No it isn't, and this thinking is a large part of why the sport finds itself in this position. It's a zero-growth mindset. 

The people who really matter are not people like you, I or the sort of people on here who are already sold and invested in the sport. It's the people who aren't watching this sport - but could be tempted to, that are the most important here.

The sport can't afford to have a fear of changing and investing in the product to attract new people, just because it might upset some small segments of a traditional base that, evidence suggests, isn't bit enough to provide or sustain growth. 

Edited by whatmichaelsays
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1 minute ago, Martyn Sadler said:

I don't disagree with you that a lot of people do watch more than one sport and have various motivations for subscribing to Sky, but I think you're missing the point, which is the valuation of the rights for individual sports.

If Sky pulled out of football, for example, it would lose so many subscribers that the game would be up for it. It couldn't survive without football, which gives football a tremendously strong negotiating position.

No other sport is in that position and ultimately it could probably pull out of all of them and still survive just on football.

I do agree with your last paragraph, however.

Whereas at one time most viewers were happy to watch Rugby League, there seems to be a discernible trend towards wanting to watch only your own club.

 

Well quite, so for first choice rights to a regional sport with limited advertising kudos (that is to say the audience isn't seen as high value) that is supplementary to an overall package then really you're looking at Scottish football who Sky pay roughly £26 million a season to.

RL doesn't have to be a regional interest sport, but decisions like the lack of internationals and the historic neglect to increase the salary cap amongst so much else has impacted the sport's and Super League's reach. The importance to a supplementary sport is casual reach, and quite simply ours has collapsed in the past 5 years.

Additionally, as soon as it becomes more of a case of "watch your own club", similar to football, then it is a simple fact that some clubs are more valuable to Sky than others. It will be interesting to see if the sport is willing to be honest with itself about that reality.

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Just now, Tommygilf said:

Additionally, as soon as it becomes more of a case of "watch your own club", similar to football, then it is a simple fact that some clubs are more valuable to Sky than others. It will be interesting to see if the sport is willing to be honest with itself about that reality.

I really not sure that is the case, even in football. Every single one of my friendship group watches as much football as they can; despite being fanatics of their own clubs. They may not physically pay to go watch other clubs live, but they hoover up live TV football.

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2 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

 It's a zero-growth mindset.

The sport can't afford to have a fear of changing and investing in the product to attract new people, just because it might upset the traditional base that, evidence suggests, isn't bit enough to provide or sustain growth. 

100%. Am so glad someone has said it. 

The existing fanbase is dramatically aging, and tends to cling to some kind of bygone era pre-professionalism where players worked down pits then ran about on a Sunday.

That part-time environment is light years away from what will attract potential new fans to the game, bring in money, and help it grow. 

If the game simply clings to this aging, inflexible, "traditionalist" fanbase, it will die out as a professional entity in Europe. Simple.

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2 minutes ago, GeordieSaint said:

I really not sure that is the case, even in football. Every single one of my friendship group watches as much football as they can; despite being fanatics of their own clubs. They may not physically pay to go watch other clubs live, but they hoover up live TV football.

True for fans of the sport, but there's a reason certain matches involving certain clubs are headline figures because they bring in greater audiences.

Leeds v Villa might be an excellent game full of tactical ingenuity and spectacle whereas Man United v Liverpool could be a dour nil nil draw, but the latter will almost always be in the premium slots.

For RL I merely suggested it was a comment I had been seeing more and more regularly in various forms and was reflective of my own experience, and that perhaps that was actually translating into something Sky could notice.

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I think the NFL sets a good example for RL in this country.

They are brilliant at storytelling and framing the ‘narrative’ of the season so that fans continue to watch the season weeks after their favourite team has fallen by the wayside.

They helpfully guide you to the emerging players and teams to watch.  It’s no fluke that people follow what’s happening NFL-wide. 

I believe this media strategy is a big reason why they’ve been able to sustain growth in an audience outside the United States too.

 

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6 minutes ago, Gerrumonside ref said:

I think the NFL sets a good example for RL in this country.

They are brilliant at storytelling and framing the ‘narrative’ of the season so that fans continue to watch the season long weeks after their favourite team has fallen by the wayside.

They helpfully guide you to the emerging players and teams to watch.  It’s no fluke that people follow what’s happening NFL-wide. 

I believe this media strategy is a big reason why they’ve been able to sustain growth in an audience outside the United States too.

 

Formula 1 has got really good at this. You have a sport that has long periods with not much happening, but the way they use statistics, data, team radios and the rest to tell the story, predict when overtaking moves will happen, when pit stops will happen and the key battles is genuinely brilliant. A great way to hook in the non-purist.

Meanwhile, we've had Phil Clarke rattling off pointless stats from his "margin meter". 

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27 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

True for fans of the sport, but there's a reason certain matches involving certain clubs are headline figures because they bring in greater audiences.

Leeds v Villa might be an excellent game full of tactical ingenuity and spectacle whereas Man United v Liverpool could be a dour nil nil draw, but the latter will almost always be in the premium slots.

For RL I merely suggested it was a comment I had been seeing more and more regularly in various forms and was reflective of my own experience, and that perhaps that was actually translating into something Sky could notice.

I consider myself a big football fan, but no amount of hype is convincing me that Newcastle v Burnley is a "Super" Sunday. 

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Well another round of meetings this week and as I understand it Championship and L1 still have no concrete info on what funding/structure will be in place for next year. 

On the issue of the sky deal the sport needs to make it attractive to casual viewers, not just heartlands viewers watching their team. It needs to appeal to a wider audience. Not being funny but some bloke dinging a cowbell in an almost empty stadium is not attractive to viewers. Games with atmosphere draw people in. Clubs need to work harder on their match day experience and get people through the gates. Geographic spread needs to improve and clubs outside the heartlands supported to grow. 

I've heard a lot of talk and criticism of Champ and L1 being reliant on 'handouts' and not being able to survive without central distribution. For too long SL clubs have relied on central funding and put all their money on the pitch instead of investing in the match day experience. At the moment it looks like clubs want the status quo continue. A restructure and slashing funding for clubs outside the top flight is not going to sort out the long term problems within the game. 

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1 hour ago, The Frying Scotsman said:

100%. Am so glad someone has said it. 

The existing fanbase is dramatically aging, and tends to cling to some kind of bygone era pre-professionalism where players worked down pits then ran about on a Sunday.

That part-time environment is light years away from what will attract potential new fans to the game, bring in money, and help it grow. 

If the game simply clings to this aging, inflexible, "traditionalist" fanbase, it will die out as a professional entity in Europe. Simple.

Your extreme contempt for a number of folk who perceive the game in a different light from you, appears to blind you to the true nature of the difficulties. The game does not in any way cling to the particular fan base you describe. There are those fans who cling to the memories of a sport that has been a major part of their lives, supporting, playing, encouraging, coaching, financing, for decades. They certainly now have no influence on the sport, are not pandered to, have no say, and it is hard to see how they can have blame attributed to them, or how the sport can be blamed for their existence. That they have no influence is clearly shown (clear to anyone with an unclouded judgement) by the extent to which the game has already moved on. 

Perhaps to move towards a more useful contribution, you could provide a definition of the new fan base you crave, and suggest initiatives on how they may be persuaded to invest emotionally and financially into the sport.

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1 hour ago, Martyn Sadler said:

Whereas at one time most viewers were happy to watch Rugby League, there seems to be a discernible trend towards wanting to watch only your own club.

 

1 hour ago, GeordieSaint said:

On TV? What evidence do you have to substantiate that comment?

Yes please share with us the research/data which highlights what most viewers did and now do.

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2 hours ago, Martyn Sadler said:

Ideally we wouldn't be doing that and subscribers would be drawn to watching the game because of its entertainment value.

But the Sky business model is based on value derived from subscribers.

More specifically, when considering any sport that it currently broadcasts, the major question it asks itself is how many subscribers would we lose if we stopped broadcasting this sport.

While that's broadly true, they do also sell over a billion pounds of advertising each year across various channels, so actual viewing figures do matter somewhat too.

I suggest that the upper bound of what they offer may well be determined by subscriber numbers, but in the absence of competing offers from other tv companies, the actual offer may be significantly lower. If BT Sport/ Amazon/ Channel 5/ OurLeague was competing for the rights, the offer might look different. A market where there's only one buyer with a take it or leave it offer isn't usually great for the seller.

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13 hours ago, Cerulean said:

Perhaps to move towards a more useful contribution, you could provide a definition of the new fan base you crave, and suggest initiatives on how they may be persuaded to invest emotionally and financially into the sport.

OK.... I'll bite. 

I have posted on here before about how I would see the game moving forward, and I should caveat that I am certainly not an expert in marketing.

Essentially, I would divide the TV money across 10 SuperLeague clubs, not 12.

The two relegated teams would join SuperLeague 2. SL2 would be a feeder league for SuperLeague, and would be aiming to be full time. Work would have to be done to find a broadcaster, but SL2 would probably be a small league to start with.... Possibly only 8 teams. If for example in season 1, SL2 comprised Hull KR, Leigh, Bradford, London, Toulouse, and 3 other clubs who fulfilled the criteria (budget, stadium, ability to operate full time....) Say, Newcastle, Widnes, York.

If only those 8 met the criteria in season 1 , then I would propose that a SuperLeague cup competition could be engineered to equalise the number of fixtures.... So SL2.clubs play 3 group games initially, (for example) then 4 of them progress to round 2.with the lower ranked SuperLeague teams with the higher ranked clubs joining at quarter finals (or whatever). The Cup would run in the initial seasons mainly to help the SL2 teams if that League was too small initially. A pro 9s circuit involving all SL and SL2 teams could be another tool used to support the SL2 clubs.

Clubs would be able to apply to join SL2 if they met the criteria to operate at a full time level, had the appropriate stadium etc etc. The early years might be difficult, as the league could be very small, so opportunities to play cup ties against SuperLeague teams would be important to keep supporting the SL2 clubs.  If expansion teams like Toronto or Ottawa ever came along again, SL2 would be the perfect "nursery" for them to be admitted to the professional game, and therefore growing the league. This would avoid the farce that was forcing Toronto Wolfpack to play a season running over students painters and call centre workers from Gloucestershire or  Oxford or whoever. This was a nonsense, and wasted resources that the game could ill afford to waste. 

The small clubs, who could never operate in a professional environment, could all play in the National League. It would sit below SL2, there would be no automatic promotion immediately, but as SL2 filled up, then the concept of relegation COULD be considered, and it would be subject to the champions of the national League meeting the criteria for admission to SL2.

The National League would be a kind of apex of the pyramid for the village teams, traditional clubs like Featherstone and Whitehaven who are.capable of getting decent results but miles off being able to operate in a full time professional environment, and ambitious clubs who have previously operated in an amateur environment.... But want to go further. (Manchester Rangers who operated a few years ago.... One example).

it would be the top of a pyramid stretching all the way down to the lowest tiers of the community game. 

The reduction of SuperLeague to 10 would help avoid the dilution of talent and hopefully both raise playing standards and prevent blow out scores - which are ridiculously prevalent in our so-called elite division.

If French clubs shared the ambition of Les Dracs or TO XIII then they could (once they met the pre determined standard) be admitted to SL2. They would not have to waste a year running about against West Wales Raiders etc, as these clubs would be in either National League or further down the community pyramid.

Essentially, my model would split the professional game away from the community level - and it would stop teams like Workington or Hunslet having a say in how Leeds Rhinos or Warrington have to operate. Teams like that who want to pay plasterers or students a.few quid to run about on a Sunday, would still be welcome to do so. However, their doing so would not be mixed up with the professional teams who (even if numbers were limited) would have to adhere to a minimum standard in terms of stadia, full time squad, academy commitment (level of investment here may vary with a few elite academies, and other SL/SL2 clubs operating a more limited academy project).

I reckon within a few years, the game could operate two (smallish) professional divisions. The target initially would be 20 professional teams across UK and France.  This pathway would (backed up by an appropriate development process of course) allow young athletes to progress into Rugby League as a genuine career opportunity, in enough numbers to raise the standard of the England team. That would then allow England to move forward and compete on a more even basis with the big 3 (Aus Tonga and NZ) as currently they are languishing down with 3rd world countries like PNG.

Obviously my plan is not foolproof, and would require a huge amount of work to sell the SL2 concept to a broadcaster,but given the lack of "rugby' on SkySports these days, the clubs would have a product/content that would be marketable to both Sky and other platforms. In years 1 and 2, visibility would be almost as important as cash, especially given that SL2 may initially operate with a small (or odd) number of teams.

 

 

Edited by The Frying Scotsman
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8 hours ago, The Frying Scotsman said:

OK.... I'll bite. 

I have posted on here before about how I would see the game moving forward, and I should caveat that I am certainly not an expert in marketing.

Essentially, I would divide the TV money across 10 SuperLeague clubs, not 12.

The two relegated teams would join SuperLeague 2. SL2 would be a feeder league for SuperLeague, and would be aiming to be full time. Work would have to be done to find a broadcaster, but SL2 would probably be a small league to start with.... Possibly only 8 teams. If for example in season 1, SL2 comprised Hull KR, Leigh, Bradford, London, Toulouse, and 3 other clubs who fulfilled the criteria (budget, stadium, ability to operate full time....) Say, Newcastle, Widnes, York.

If only those 8 met the criteria in season 1 , then I would propose that a SuperLeague cup competition could be engineered to equalise the number of fixtures.... So SL2.clubs play 3 group games initially, (for example) then 4 of them progress to round 2.with the lower ranked SuperLeague teams with the higher ranked clubs joining at quarter finals (or whatever). The Cup would run in the initial seasons mainly to help the SL2 teams if that League was too small initially. A pro 9s circuit involving all SL and SL2 teams could be another tool used to support the SL2 clubs.

Clubs would be able to apply to join SL2 if they met the criteria to operate at a full time level, had the appropriate stadium etc etc. The early years might be difficult, as the league could be very small, so opportunities to play cup ties against SuperLeague teams would be important to keep supporting the SL2 clubs.  If expansion teams like Toronto or Ottawa ever came along again, SL2 would be the perfect "nursery" for them to be admitted to the professional game, and therefore growing the league. This would avoid the farce that was forcing Toronto Wolfpack to play a season running over students painters and call centre workers from Gloucestershire or  Oxford or whoever. This was a nonsense, and wasted resources that the game could ill afford to waste. 

The small clubs, who could never operate in a professional environment, could all play in the National League. It would sit below SL2, there would be no automatic promotion immediately, but as SL2 filled up, then the concept of relegation COULD be considered, and it would be subject to the champions of the national League meeting the criteria for admission to SL2.

The National League would be a kind of apex of the pyramid for the village teams, traditional clubs like Featherstone and Whitehaven who are.capable of getting decent results but miles off being able to operate in a full time professional environment, and ambitious clubs who have previously operated in an amateur environment.... But want to go further. (Manchester Rangers who operated a few years ago.... One example).

it would be the top of a pyramid stretching all the way down to the lowest tiers of the community game. 

The reduction of SuperLeague to 10 would help avoid the dilution of talent and hopefully both raise playing standards and prevent blow out scores - which are ridiculously prevalent in our so-called elite division.

If French clubs shared the ambition of Les Dracs or TO XIII then they could (once they met the pre determined standard) be admitted to SL2. They would not have to waste a year running about against West Wales Raiders etc, as these clubs would be in either National League or further down the community pyramid.

Essentially, my model would split the professional game away from the community level - and it would stop teams like Workington or Hunslet having a say in how Leeds Rhinos or Warrington have to operate. Teams like that who want to pay plasterers or students a.few quid to run about on a Sunday, would still be welcome to do so. However, their doing so would not be mixed up with the professional teams who (even if numbers were limited) would have to adhere to a minimum standard in terms of stadia, full time squad, academy commitment (level of investment here may vary with a few elite academies, and other SL/SL2 clubs operating a more limited academy project).

I reckon within a few years, the game could operate two (smallish) professional divisions. The target initially would be 20 professional teams across UK and France.  This pathway would (backed up by an appropriate development process of course) allow young athletes to progress into Rugby League as a genuine career opportunity, in enough numbers to raise the standard of the England team. That would then allow England to move forward and compete on a more even basis with the big 3 (Aus Tonga and NZ) as currently they are languishing down with 3rd world countries like PNG.

Obviously my plan is not foolproof, and would require a huge amount of work to sell the SL2 concept to a broadcaster,but given the lack of "rugby' on SkySports these days, the clubs would have a product/content that would be marketable to both Sky and other platforms. In years 1 and 2, visibility would be almost as important as cash, especially given that SL2 may initially operate with a small (or odd) number of teams.

 

 

Thank you for a fully considered and comprehensive answer. It would be good to think that those who will make the decisions, whoever they are, are already considering many of the elements you propose. I’ve no doubt that a carefully and well presented strong top division, (not to be called Super League, please: a confusing designation which suggests it is a different sport from Rugby League) is essential for strengthening the profile of the game, and then a sound and carefully thought out structure below the top division will help provide opportunities for progressing the spread of the game.

Intent is important here. If the intent is to provide a satisfactory fixture list for Leeds, Wigan, St Helens, Warrington and Hull (and mostly it is, and will become more so as these clubs take more control), then the introverted game so produced will stagnate  quickly. If the intent is to maximise every strength, every quality, every fragment of interest and enthusiasm which already exists and which can be uncovered, then the game has a chance.

A major and enormously important issue: the focus on structure, the shuffling the teams into a hopeful arrangement, detracts from the real problem, in that it does little to address the attractiveness of the sport. I’m afraid Super League has encouraged the game to become one of high speed battering - to casual and potential new observers, a contest of impact, wrestling, pulling, pushing, battering; played out by robotic giants. It has become tedious, often unpleasant, occasionally ugly. The qualities of movement, passing, catching, evading, free running, reading the field, have been hidden. There is little to attract new players, new watchers, new families and individuals who want to become part of the game.

Forget structure - other than make the best of what exists - and look carefully at what will bring in new enthusiasts.

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20 hours ago, Cerulean said:

Your extreme contempt for a number of folk who perceive the game in a different light from you, appears to blind you to the true nature of the difficulties. The game does not in any way cling to the particular fan base you describe. There are those fans who cling to the memories of a sport that has been a major part of their lives, supporting, playing, encouraging, coaching, financing, for decades. They certainly now have no influence on the sport, are not pandered to, have no say, and it is hard to see how they can have blame attributed to them, or how the sport can be blamed for their existence. That they have no influence is clearly shown (clear to anyone with an unclouded judgement) by the extent to which the game has already moved on. 

Perhaps to move towards a more useful contribution, you could provide a definition of the new fan base you crave, and suggest initiatives on how they may be persuaded to invest emotionally and financially into the sport.

It truly makes me laugh at times , this wierd misconception that lower tier grounds are only inhabited by old blokes in flat caps accompanied by a whippet , perpetuated I'd suggest by RL ' fans ' who've not actually visited these stadiums 

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9 hours ago, The Frying Scotsman said:

OK.... I'll bite. 

I have posted on here before about how I would see the game moving forward, and I should caveat that I am certainly not an expert in marketing.

Essentially, I would divide the TV money across 10 SuperLeague clubs, not 12.

The two relegated teams would join SuperLeague 2. SL2 would be a feeder league for SuperLeague, and would be aiming to be full time. Work would have to be done to find a broadcaster, but SL2 would probably be a small league to start with.... Possibly only 8 teams. If for example in season 1, SL2 comprised Hull KR, Leigh, Bradford, London, Toulouse, and 3 other clubs who fulfilled the criteria (budget, stadium, ability to operate full time....) Say, Newcastle, Widnes, York.

If only those 8 met the criteria in season 1 , then I would propose that a SuperLeague cup competition could be engineered to equalise the number of fixtures.... So SL2.clubs play 3 group games initially, (for example) then 4 of them progress to round 2.with the lower ranked SuperLeague teams with the higher ranked clubs joining at quarter finals (or whatever). The Cup would run in the initial seasons mainly to help the SL2 teams if that League was too small initially. A pro 9s circuit involving all SL and SL2 teams could be another tool used to support the SL2 clubs.

Clubs would be able to apply to join SL2 if they met the criteria to operate at a full time level, had the appropriate stadium etc etc. The early years might be difficult, as the league could be very small, so opportunities to play cup ties against SuperLeague teams would be important to keep supporting the SL2 clubs.  If expansion teams like Toronto or Ottawa ever came along again, SL2 would be the perfect "nursery" for them to be admitted to the professional game, and therefore growing the league. This would avoid the farce that was forcing Toronto Wolfpack to play a season running over students painters and call centre workers from Gloucestershire or  Oxford or whoever. This was a nonsense, and wasted resources that the game could ill afford to waste. 

The small clubs, who could never operate in a professional environment, could all play in the National League. It would sit below SL2, there would be no automatic promotion immediately, but as SL2 filled up, then the concept of relegation COULD be considered, and it would be subject to the champions of the national League meeting the criteria for admission to SL2.

The National League would be a kind of apex of the pyramid for the village teams, traditional clubs like Featherstone and Whitehaven who are.capable of getting decent results but miles off being able to operate in a full time professional environment, and ambitious clubs who have previously operated in an amateur environment.... But want to go further. (Manchester Rangers who operated a few years ago.... One example).

it would be the top of a pyramid stretching all the way down to the lowest tiers of the community game. 

The reduction of SuperLeague to 10 would help avoid the dilution of talent and hopefully both raise playing standards and prevent blow out scores - which are ridiculously prevalent in our so-called elite division.

If French clubs shared the ambition of Les Dracs or TO XIII then they could (once they met the pre determined standard) be admitted to SL2. They would not have to waste a year running about against West Wales Raiders etc, as these clubs would be in either National League or further down the community pyramid.

Essentially, my model would split the professional game away from the community level - and it would stop teams like Workington or Hunslet having a say in how Leeds Rhinos or Warrington have to operate. Teams like that who want to pay plasterers or students a.few quid to run about on a Sunday, would still be welcome to do so. However, their doing so would not be mixed up with the professional teams who (even if numbers were limited) would have to adhere to a minimum standard in terms of stadia, full time squad, academy commitment (level of investment here may vary with a few elite academies, and other SL/SL2 clubs operating a more limited academy project).

I reckon within a few years, the game could operate two (smallish) professional divisions. The target initially would be 20 professional teams across UK and France.  This pathway would (backed up by an appropriate development process of course) allow young athletes to progress into Rugby League as a genuine career opportunity, in enough numbers to raise the standard of the England team. That would then allow England to move forward and compete on a more even basis with the big 3 (Aus Tonga and NZ) as currently they are languishing down with 3rd world countries like PNG.

Obviously my plan is not foolproof, and would require a huge amount of work to sell the SL2 concept to a broadcaster,but given the lack of "rugby' on SkySports these days, the clubs would have a product/content that would be marketable to both Sky and other platforms. In years 1 and 2, visibility would be almost as important as cash, especially given that SL2 may initially operate with a small (or odd) number of teams.

 

 

In that case I'm out , that'd be me done with it 

 

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On 05/08/2021 at 22:03, yipyee said:

Its not its the SL clubs that chose you as cannon fodder..

Short sited and now the hens come home to roost

Don't be silly Yipyee it was not short sighted at all, the stratergy worked for the SL incumbents knowing Leigh would not threaten any other club with relegation, and for that matter under the same conditions of naming any team to enter SL as late as Dec 14th, under funding and no players to sign to strengthen a squad assembled for the Championship, no other team including Toulouse would have staved off relegation.

As a Leigh fan, I said when we were 'promoted' we would not win a game all season that did not deter me from buying a season ticket as I accepted the situation, but next season is completely different whether we get relegated or we get a reprieve from relegation if we are not competitive again I will strongly consider divorce proceedings.

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  • John Drake changed the title to League Restructure Thread (Merged Threads)

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