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League Restructure Thread (Merged Threads)


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10 minutes ago, Martyn Sadler said:

That brings us onto the idea of what makes a sport exciting, which is a massive subject to consider.

For example, I've tried to watch football in the last 12 months or so, but I find it so boring that I just can't get beyond half-time, and the most boring matches are those involving the biggest teams.

I've tried to watch some of The Hundred, but again can't last more than an hour, while admiring the marketing effort that has attracted all those people to sit through those matches.

The thing for me is how the sport can engage with a new audience. Football is massive everywhere in the country. I'm still not convinced the hundred is any more successful than the T20 that already existed - time will tell on that front. After the initial burst of promotion, it seems to have quietened down a bit.

Rugby league seems to becoming increasingly irrelevant by the year. The sport needs to work out how it can best engage and enthuse audiences in its existing areas but also new areas like London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Sheffield, etc etc.

I have mates who have emigrated to Australia who were never league fans when they lived in the UK. But now they're in Oz and league is the big sport and the thing to watch, they're hooked. There's nothing in the water in St Helens that predisposes the population to enjoying rugby league - it's just that it's massively relevant in that town compared to somewhere like Birmingham. 

I've read your proposal, and IMO it has a lot of merits, and also a lot of potential flaws. However, I  don't believe any amount of tinkering with the domestic structure is going to make much difference to making the sport more relevant amongst the wider public - it's akin to moving deckchairs on the Titanic. It's the international game that needs drastic attention and development. How many sports in this country have a high profile domestic game? Only soccer as far as I can see. And I don't foresee any reason why rugby league would buck that trend. How is Wigan playing Swinton going to be relevant to a kid in Birmingham? Or Manchester for that matter? The international game for me is the only thing that's going to make rugby league relevant again amongst the wider public.

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5 minutes ago, Moove said:

If it was all based on having a winning team as you say then surely having Saints play Whitehaven etc would be great and we'd have a packed houses watching Saints give them a pasting, turning people away, no? It's about events, competitive and entertaining matches. We don't have the talent pool available to make 36 teams competitive with each other nor the funds to develop it to the level which would be required to do so even within a generation or two.

Suggesting Saints and Warrington play each other ten times a season is just plain silly. Clearly there's a balance to be had. But simply changing structure to have teams with huge support bases (comparatively) and huge revenues (again comparatively) playing against part-time operations and limited revenues, isn't going to help the latter become the former any time soon.

More likely it's going to result in the former losing fans, revenues etc and ending up closer to the latter. Lower revenues leads to less money to invest in growth, player/coach development. It's a downward spiral.

By the way you didn't actually answer my main question...

 

Have you read it? You obviously don't understand 😉

The only way to make it more competitive is by weakening Saintsand Warrington to such an extent that their crowds and revenues dip to historic lows and they can no longer attract top players. Race to the bottom.

Edited by Scubby
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4 minutes ago, The Frying Scotsman said:

When was that??

In 2006 Wigan beat Whitehaven 106-4 in the Challenge Cup. Sam Tomkins got 5 tries, Trent Barrett got a hat trick and Pat Richards 38 points.

Wigan are struggling (as is the game) and can no longer afford a superstar like Trent Barrett so they may only beat Whitehaven 70-0. 

In what world does increased revenues, standards and growth of the game happen, and also sees Wigan-Whitehaven going from 106-4, 70-0, 40-0, 26-6, 18-16?

How many Wigan fans will be left by then?

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4 hours ago, DOGFATHER said:

Maybe you can enlighten me to the contrary, but my understanding is:-

Hull were on the verge of bankruptcy. Therefore, would no longer have existed had the "merger" with Gateshead not taken place. The £1.25M they received over the following 2 years was enough to satisfy the creditors that were moving to shut them down, from pulling the plug. 

The merger involved Gateshead moving to Hull, playing from the Boulevard,  being called Hull and playing in Hull's traditional colours. 

Hull should have been out of business, probably reforming and starting in the the bottom division. However, they didn't do that, because all of the SL member club's decided it was in the best interests of the game to keep Hull in SL, because they were too well supported to go to the wall. You might say it was because they were deemed to be too big to go down. A bit like what happened at Bradford more recently, prior to the last administration.

 

 

The club wanted to be relegated but were voted out of going into the then NFP. They did not finish in a relegation spot. There would have been no club.

Gateshead were losing money hand over fist. Their owners took the offer of the merger as they deemed it more likely to survive. It was either one club or no clubs.

Hull were definitely not deemed too big to go down playing out of the Boulevard with crowds circa 4k finishing in the bottom few each season for the 2 years they'd been in SL at that point.

Were Huddersfield also deemed too big to go down in their 2 wooden spoon seasons on crowds of 3k?

I think you have most certainly invented a narrative to fit your agenda here. Unfortunately, it just isn't true.

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24 minutes ago, The Frying Scotsman said:

When was that??

Whitehaven beat us a couple of times in the 60s with a couple of other close defeats, last win was 1973.

Interestingly even in those relatively competitive times they still only got 1-2000 attending, which is considerably less that the return fixtures. So as an example (admittedly a very small sample) it doesn’t provide much evidence that top teams playing there regularly would suddenly unleash a growth spurt in the likes of Whitehaven and help them grow to the same level.

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30 minutes ago, Moove said:

Whitehaven beat us a couple of times in the 60s with a couple of other close defeats, last win was 1973.

Thanks. 

So basically @Martyn Sadler is using isolated examples from about 50-55 years ago. The same time that players worked down  coal mines all week, and the Challenge Cup Final was the only game live on TV all year. 

👍🏽

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8 hours ago, Scubby said:

I can't believe I'm even justifying a rebuff. It's the equivalent of Rangers and Celtic collaborating with Gretna Green and Cowdenbeath to grow the Scottish game's wealth.

Meanwhile, in the bowels of Scottish football, a truly radical proposal is playing out. One that Martyn would run a mile from because it genuinely could work - not that anyone would want it to. One that had fans in English football forming protest groups the second the EFL thought aloud about it.

Celtic B and Rangers B, playing in Airdrie and Dumbarton respectively, are turning out in this season's Lowland League.

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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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7 hours ago, The Frying Scotsman said:

Thanks. 

So basically @Martyn Sadler is using isolated examples from about 50-55 years ago. The same time that players worked down  coal mines all week, and the Challenge Cup Final was the only game live on TV all year. 

👍🏽

With the same small towns and pit villages involved. 

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8 hours ago, Moove said:

If it was all based on having a winning team as you say then surely having Saints play Whitehaven etc would be great and we'd have a packed houses watching Saints give them a pasting, turning people away, no? It's about events, competitive and entertaining matches too. We don't have the talent pool available to make 36 teams competitive with each other without spreading the existing pool thinner nor the funds to develop it to the level which would be required to do so even within a generation or two.

Suggesting Saints and Warrington play each other ten times a season is just plain silly. Clearly there's a balance to be had. But simply changing structure to have teams with huge support bases (comparatively) and huge revenues (again comparatively) playing against part-time operations and limited revenues, isn't going to help the latter become the former any time soon.

More likely it's going to result in the former losing fans, revenues etc and ending up closer to the latter. Lower revenues leads to less money to invest in growth, player/coach development. It's a downward spiral.

By the way you didn't actually answer my main question...

 

What you say would be correct if we believe that the world is a static place in which things never change.

Under our current structure it probably won't, so the gap between a diminishing number of big clubs and the rest will grow wider.

Under my system every club will be potentially attractive to anyone wanting to invest in a professional sports club with the potential to grow on and off the field.

On the subject of the production of players, I agree that we need to produce more players of a high standard.

You should be asking why we are not producing enough players like that today.

Of course no one can guarantee any structure that will produce the number of players we would like to see, but my system would encourage the clubs to be more ambitious and spread their scouting nets wider.

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8 hours ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

The international game for me is the only thing that's going to make rugby league relevant again amongst the wider public.

I don't disagree with that. The club game can only go so far.

The precondition is to have a system that creates the space for international competitions.

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8 hours ago, Scubby said:

In 2006 Wigan beat Whitehaven 106-4 in the Challenge Cup. Sam Tomkins got 5 tries, Trent Barrett got a hat trick and Pat Richards 38 points.

Wigan are struggling (as is the game) and can no longer afford a superstar like Trent Barrett so they may only beat Whitehaven 70-0. 

In what world does increased revenues, standards and growth of the game happen, and also sees Wigan-Whitehaven going from 106-4, 70-0, 40-0, 26-6, 18-16?

How many Wigan fans will be left by then?

You don't need to go back to 2005 to find one-sided scorelines.

In 2021 Salford put 70 points on Castleford.

In the Challenge Cup in the 1914-5 season, Huddersfield beat Swinton Park Rangers 119-2.

Did the Northern Union abandon amateur teams being in the Challenge Cup?

In the 1995 World Cup, the All Blacks defeated Japan 145-17.

No doubt you would have changed the format so that only the nations with a chance of winning the competition would have been invited.

Melbourne Storm have regularly run up cricket scores in the NRL this season.

One-sided scorelines are always possible in rugby of both codes.

The rugby union World Cup pits teams against each other of widely differing standards.

But they don't moan about it, as many people on here no doubt would do. Their intention is that the weaker teams will gradually become more competitive, as Japan did.

 

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16 hours ago, Martyn Sadler said:

I set out six points to answer that question. Which of them do you think are invalid?

To take each in turn.

1. Would require MLS style ownership from the start, nothing just develops like that.

2. No conflicts you say? Was RL in a similar all in format conflict free and harmonious?

3. That's a nonsense point. Venture capitalists invest in what makes money in the market they are investing into.

4. Growth potential for Americans would come from a franchised league you could either buy into (ie the MLS) or a League you could work your way up to (through P/R). The former model prioritises quality over quantity, which your model quite clearly does not. Leagues in most sports are normally limited by the number of games a season, in RL however we are at 12 because of a funding gap. Different problem which money can actually alleviate.

5. The flexibility seems to be that clubs can be elected out if they are deemed too weak. That would never happen though would it? Especially if the other clubs stood to gain tuppence from the move! I mean its not like we've seen exactly that for the past 3 seasons across Super League and the championship.

6. Why not invite all of French RL in? By bringing in League 1 to Super League you're effectively asking sides smaller than elite 1 clubs to do this already.

The points you stated for this are in general pretty waffly, and often as applicable to any other model. There is little intrinsic or unique to your structure within those points.

16 hours ago, Martyn Sadler said:

Maybe so, but we need to create a more stable environment for all the clubs, whether or not they have millionaire investors.

Surely that involves letting them compete at their own appropriate levels? You could even say in their own leagues. If they are better they could move up and worse they could move down...

16 hours ago, Martyn Sadler said:

How do you think they view their "bang for their buck"?

What exactly does it consist of?

They want a competition that will deliver them a return on their investment. If that is a 14 team franchised competition with 7 televised matches a week then that is what they will insist on investing in. Clubs who can hack that will be in, those that can't won't. They're not investing out of kindness.

If they can get the same RoI from investing in 14 clubs as they can 36, then they're logically going to choose the former. 

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3 minutes ago, Martyn Sadler said:

In the Challenge Cup in the 1914-5 season, Huddersfield beat Swinton Park Rangers 119-2.

Did the Northern Union abandon amateur teams being in the Challenge Cup?

No, but it looks like Swinton Park Rangers abandoned the Challenge Cup as that appears to be their only appearance.

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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19 minutes ago, Martyn Sadler said:

You don't need to go back to 2005 to find one-sided scorelines.

In 2021 Salford put 70 points on Castleford.

In the Challenge Cup in the 1914-5 season, Huddersfield beat Swinton Park Rangers 119-2.

Did the Northern Union abandon amateur teams being in the Challenge Cup?

In the 1995 World Cup, the All Blacks defeated Japan 145-17.

No doubt you would have changed the format so that only the nations with a chance of winning the competition would have been invited.

Melbourne Storm have regularly run up cricket scores in the NRL this season.

One-sided scorelines are always possible in rugby of both codes.

The rugby union World Cup pits teams against each other of widely differing standards.

But they don't moan about it, as many people on here no doubt would do. Their intention is that the weaker teams will gradually become more competitive, as Japan did.

 

You have completely failed to understand my point. I assume you read my post? (see we can all do this)

I said that if the game was going in the right direction, then Wigan/Warrington would be stronger and recruiting higher level talent (like Trent Barrett) and then would be spanking the likes of Whitehaven by 80-100+, I think Leeds smashed Swinton 110-something in the early 2000s.

Whitehaven and Swinton are historically minute towns, in socially deprived areas - in the former's case a remote area and the latter a nomad club with about 200 fans. Where are they going to get the players, infrastructure, wealth to compete with a strong Warrington or Wigan? Whitehaven nearly went bust in League 1 a year or two ago paying players pocket money.

The only way is to dilute down Wigan and Warrington's resources and strength to the point they are barely a full time professional club and then we might get a competitive game between Wigan and Whitehaven - dumbing down, down, down. If that is the case, who is going to pay £40m a year to cover this standard of RL? How are you going to sell sponsorship, corporates and match tickets?

Edited by Scubby
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So would it be possible to move back to actual proposed structures rather than pie in the sky absurd ones?

Has it been confirmed that we are sticking with the current setup for next year (and hopefully years beyond that)?

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1 minute ago, M j M said:

So would it be possible to move back to actual proposed structures rather than pie in the sky absurd ones?

Has it been confirmed that we are sticking with the current setup for next year (and hopefully years beyond that)?

Yep it is not often a thread is spammed by the actual publishers.

There is a meeting of clubs this week I understand. There is said to be a vote on League one funding. Not sure how close they are to confirming the 2022 set-up but press reports are saying no change for next year.

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27 minutes ago, Martyn Sadler said:

What you say would be correct if we believe that the world is a static place in which things never change.

Under our current structure it probably won't, so the gap between a diminishing number of big clubs and the rest will grow wider.

Under my system every club will be potentially attractive to anyone wanting to invest in a professional sports club with the potential to grow on and off the field.

On the subject of the production of players, I agree that we need to produce more players of a high standard.

You should be asking why we are not producing enough players like that today.

Of course no one can guarantee any structure that will produce the number of players we would like to see, but my system would encourage the clubs to be more ambitious and spread their scouting nets wider.

The scenario I suggested would play out was based on the world changing in line with your proposals, not on current structure and things staying the same.

From your reply here it seems like your whole proposal is based on the idea that if you put all clubs in one league then every club will suddenly become attractive to an investor. It would take any investor millions and a significant number of years to have anywhere near the impact on playing numbers and commercial attractiveness which we'd need to support that structure, all the while standards at already elite clubs is levelling down.

There is absolutely zero evidence that there are 20 or so of these multi-millionaires hiding around the corner queueing up to invest en masse. And why would they invest at that level in clubs who have shown that even when competitive with top teams in the past they still can't attract fans in any significant numbers?

Frankly our focus should be on how we increase participation numbers, increase community engagement, identifying digital and media strategy, increase on and off field entertainment levels, how we apply minimum standards on clubs to deliver all that etc. League structure can support it once you know what direction you're heading but it's not the thing you start with.

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14 hours ago, The Future is League said:

So when did your club start up it's academy again?

Was London already running an academy before your started up your academy again?

In your defense i think you should be granted an academy as should all Super League teams and Championship sides who aspire to play in Super League.

Good, so if a licence is not granted for any team for that matter then running an academy should not be used as an entry mechanism to SL, in fact it should be the reverse any club THAT IS GRANTED A SL LICENCE then has to without question run an academy or the licence us withdrawn.

How's about that then?

PS. 

The 10 clubs awarded elite Academy Licences for 2022-27 are: Catalans Dragons, Huddersfield Giants, Hull FC, Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos, Newcastle Thunder, St Helens, Wakefield Trinity, Warrington Wolves, Wigan Warriors.

Do you notice a glaring omission being Toulouse and Fev two clubs that could be promoted this season, the Licences awarded are for a 5 year period what happens this season if Toulouse get promoted and then in '23 licences are brought back and entry is that academies are a stipulation, I should imagine that Toulouse may get the nod, but I would love it to be Fev and see what would happen with Cas, Wakey and not to far away Leeds also running academies, if as I say the selection process was based on geographical position (baring the 3 North West clubs), it doesn't take a genius to look at the list and realise that.

And as I say the RFL didn't have the bottle to weed out one of the 3 NW clubs.

Edited by Harry Stottle
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20 minutes ago, Moove said:

The scenario I suggested would play out was based on the world changing in line with your proposals, not on current structure and things staying the same.

From your reply here it seems like your whole proposal is based on the idea that if you put all clubs in one league then every club will suddenly become attractive to an investor. It would take any investor millions and a significant number of years to have anywhere near the impact on playing numbers and commercial attractiveness which we'd need to support that structure, all the while standards at already elite clubs is levelling down.

There is absolutely zero evidence that there are 20 or so of these multi-millionaires hiding around the corner queueing up to invest en masse. And why would they invest at that level in clubs who have shown that even when competitive with top teams in the past they still can't attract fans in any significant numbers?

Frankly our focus should be on how we increase participation numbers, increase community engagement, identifying digital and media strategy, increase on and off field entertainment levels, how we apply minimum standards on clubs to deliver all that etc. League structure can support it once you know what direction you're heading but it's not the thing you start with.

All I can see presently are the game's blue chip clubs Hull, Leeds, Wigan, St Helens and Warrington operating with historically weaker playing rosters, less commercial income, and dwindling attendances. It is no coincidence Catalans are top of SL as they have the most game breakers in their squad. For those other clubs - the squad depth 10-28 players are pretty shocking and being paid pretty low pay to play. This doesn't take long before it moves to life support (especially if Sky want to further cut back).

This needs addressing now, not in 5 years, not with a fantasy plan, not with some radical deck chair moving - but now. Wigan are a shell of the club from 5-10 years ago. How do six top clubs get much stronger and how quickly can you do this? How can you add 2-3 other strong (and commercially attractive) clubs to that as quickly as possible.

We are badly lacking someone to drive the game. The tail is wagging the dog at the moment and it is stopping any potential for strength and progress. 

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14 hours ago, Padge said:

The plan, read it and get it, is a throwback to a time when we had one divisions with all the clubs in it. Clubs organized fixtures based on local Derby's and funding other local clubs by having the big boys in town once a year. All clubs didn't play each other and there were Lancashire and Yorkshire Championships and play-offs for the Championship winners.

Although the proposal isn't, obviously, exactly that, it is borne of the same fundamental idea. That structure was ditched, eventually, for a system of P&R because it was felt that the structure was stifling the game by hamstringing the clubs that were capable of generating the big bucks. You have to take into account that at this time the way funds were distributed was by operating a gate levy that was taken by the RFL and distributed to the clubs. With the advent of P&R the levy eventually only applied to the first division clubs.

I don't know why Martyn just doesn't come out with it and say basically he wants to return to the 1950s model, a bizarre fixture model with clubs picking and choosing opponents and charging a levy on the big clubs to feed the minnows.

 

 

And there was also the addition of another important factor in getting the regional leagues rescinded in favour of a P&R format, it was called the M62 it made trans Pennine travel much easier THEN, albeit that can be questioned today.

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13 hours ago, Scubby said:

What is the likelihood of the Leigh rule (i.e. only £1m distribution) being retained for the newly promoted club in 2022? 

Gateshead were only give half the distribution in 1999 and I think Wakefield were given less in 1998. And obviously Toronto zilch.

Could be, Wakey have made a few new signings for next season, most prob likely have to get a new coach and probably had to pay Chris Chester some severance pay.

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Just now, Harry Stottle said:

Could be, Wakey have made a few new signings for next season, most prob likely have to get a new coach and probably had to pay Chris Chester some severance pay.

Were Leigh going to be kneecapped with less funding forever or would they have been upgraded had they finished 11th?

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27 minutes ago, Scubby said:

How can you add 2-3 other strong (and commercially attractive) clubs to that as quickly as possible.

I'd almost be tempted to ask the whole pro game who would be able to commit to a minimum spend of XX, stick those clubs in SL, and make that a condition of promotion to SL in the future. The flaw with my idea is that it may result in a division of 6 clubs...

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1 hour ago, Martyn Sadler said:

Their intention is that the weaker teams will gradually become more competitive, as Japan did.

Bad example Martyn, Japan found Bobby Susuki, Jason Yamamoto and Greg Takahashi along with another 5 or 6 6'-8" white caucasian Japanese nationals to make them more competitive, just saying.

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