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Funding cuts could mean the end for Coventry Bears


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4 hours ago, Colin James said:

The article says their playing budget is under £60k. That's really not very much in the grand scheme of things across a squad of 20 players.

Playing devil's advocate somewhat but how little can we pay players whilst claiming to be a professional sport? 

I hope Coventry manage to find a solution to the cuts and continue their progress. They have always seemed to be the best run of the expansion clubs that came in to League One a few years ago and are seeing some rewards on the pitch.

Coventry have the lowest budget in league though Skolars likely have a similar budget. Some clubs are spending a lot more than that (Rangi Chase was on £20k + per year!!). 

Ultimately Coventry are giving players opportunities within the game they might not otherwise get it. They don't pay big money but offer other benefits for players that maybe other clubs don't. 

 

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5 hours ago, Colin James said:

The article says their playing budget is under £60k. That's really not very much in the grand scheme of things across a squad of 20 players.

Playing devil's advocate somewhat but how little can we pay players whilst claiming to be a professional sport? 

I hope Coventry manage to find a solution to the cuts and continue their progress. They have always seemed to be the best run of the expansion clubs that came in to League One a few years ago and are seeing some rewards on the pitch.

I'm not sure the issue. This is League 1 and the lowest tier of the professional game and the league should be about far more than just blowing money on player wages. As such I think playing budgets under 60k are fine at that level and indeed are preferable. Coventry are sustainable and do great work at developing the game in the area. I'd much prefer that than blowing all their money on players and doing nothing to develop the game in their area.

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1 hour ago, OriginalMrC said:

Coventry have the lowest budget in league though Skolars likely have a similar budget. Some clubs are spending a lot more than that (Rangi Chase was on £20k + per year!!). 

Not to pick on Chase, but has his signing made a great deal of difference to Doncaster, West Wales or Rochdale?

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13 minutes ago, RigbyLuger said:

Not to pick on Chase, but has his signing made a great deal of difference to Doncaster, West Wales or Rochdale?

A fantastic player even now. Worth the money? I'd say no. For a team like West Wales he was a marquee signing but they could have had 4 very good players for what he was costing. I appreciate due to their location they might not have access to players that other clubs have. 

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On 09/09/2021 at 10:32, steve oates said:

Wakefield, Cas and Fev? Can we just keep Wakey? and all will be OK?

Hull & HKR   do we only need one of them? Step HKR down??

Fax and Huddersfield? Do we only save one of them??

Leigh and Wigan - only needs Wigan??

To lose five clubs and consequently lose 30,000 dedicated fans of the axed clubs and lose investors like Fulton, Campbell, Hudgell and Beaumont will instantly kill the game.

Are you actually serious here??

I'm saying the consequences of losing a club like Coventry is more serious than losing an equivalent League 1 club in the Heartlands in terms of its impact upon the whole game.

My point wasn't about Super League clubs - the whole topic has been about Coventry and League 1 funding so I'm not sure how you've made this jump.

I also said at the start that I don't want ANY club to fail - my point is that the distribution of money at Champ/L1 has to ensure that clubs don't go out of business ESPECIALLY if they're in an area where there isn't any other Rugby League clubs.

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On 09/09/2021 at 10:09, thebrewxi said:

This is it. 100%. 

If it's a call between do we let Hunslet go amateur/fold or do we we let Coventry go amateur/fold do we chose the former or latter? Do we base it on which club is potentially more resilient to zero funding and which club if it just went under would their still be local strong amateur clubs. Or do we not. 

"The game" will choose Hunslet, Workington, Swinton, Oldham every time.

Yes this was my point (that others didn't quite grasp) - although obviously best case scenario is that there's a recognition that L1 probably produces quite high value for money given how low its funding is already.

No one wants to see clubs going under, but a club like Coventry going under will likely lead to the fall apart of their community programme leaving little, if any, Rugby League going on in the city and could have a knock-on impact in the West Midlands region. There's no one else to pick up the slack.

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On 09/09/2021 at 14:44, Saint 1 said:

I don't think that funding cuts would have to mean rugby league wouldn't exist in Coventry, as much as it wouldn't exist at a semi-professional level. Coventry was a pretty strong amateur club before they entered League 1 in 2015 and also had a decent junior set up covering lots of age groups. 

It does a disservice to Coventry's past volunteers and indeed amateur clubs nationally to act like this is a binary choice between having RL in Coventry and not having RL in Coventry. They just wouldn't be paying players.

 

I mean, their Chairman said in an interview that it would be disastrous getting their funding cut. Not suggesting that every club has to be pro or semi-pro, but an amateur club wouldn't necessarily be playing in the same stadium, so fewer people likely to support the team. Playing quality would drop as some players would choose to do other things instead (even local lads who wouldn't move away might decide that it's not worth playing for free). Even if the can survive, do you think the sport of rugby league is likely to have a bigger presence or a smaller presence in Coventry if the League 1 funding is reduced?

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On 09/09/2021 at 14:44, Saint 1 said:

I don't think that funding cuts would have to mean rugby league wouldn't exist in Coventry, as much as it wouldn't exist at a semi-professional level. Coventry was a pretty strong amateur club before they entered League 1 in 2015 and also had a decent junior set up covering lots of age groups. 

It does a disservice to Coventry's past volunteers and indeed amateur clubs nationally to act like this is a binary choice between having RL in Coventry and not having RL in Coventry. They just wouldn't be paying players.

 

Unless they could get into the National Conference League there wouldn't be much of a local amateur game to play in for them, the midlands league is just a merit league now and the Conference League South doesn't have any midlands teams in it.

Nottingham Outlaws are a good amateur side, but it does help that they're close enough to Yorkshire to play in a Yorkshire based league. 

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1 hour ago, bowes said:

Unless they could get into the National Conference League there wouldn't be much of a local amateur game to play in for them, the midlands league is just a merit league now and the Conference League South doesn't have any midlands teams in it.

Nottingham Outlaws are a good amateur side, but it does help that they're close enough to Yorkshire to play in a Yorkshire based league. 

What about NW counties league with a 2nd team/feeder team playing in the Midlands league?

Probably be less travelling than conference league south

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4 hours ago, zylya said:

I mean, their Chairman said in an interview that it would be disastrous getting their funding cut. Not suggesting that every club has to be pro or semi-pro, but an amateur club wouldn't necessarily be playing in the same stadium, so fewer people likely to support the team. Playing quality would drop as some players would choose to do other things instead (even local lads who wouldn't move away might decide that it's not worth playing for free). Even if the can survive, do you think the sport of rugby league is likely to have a bigger presence or a smaller presence in Coventry if the League 1 funding is reduced?

Coventry started playing in their stadium in 2004, 11 years before they joined League 1. RL might have a smaller presence, it might not, I just don't think arguing it's as clear cut as people make out - how are we defining 'presence'? Did the number of RL players in Coventry increase when they joined League 1? Even before they joined League 1 they were a great amateur club who ran lots of junior age groups and had a first team based entirely in the Midlands. 

If you look at Hemel Stags, when they dropped out of League 1, did RL have a bigger or smaller presence in Hemel? They now have 2 teams of Hemel based players - in League 1 their 1st team would have had a handful Hemel-based players while their 2nd team would have been Hemel based. They still run juniors at most age groups. They're now launching a women's team which they didn't have while in League 1. Hemel leaving League 1 has arguably led to an increased presence of RL in Hemel. Conversely, it has led to a decline in Oxford.

More generally, specifically what is the point of League 1? What is the purpose it is trying to fill and how are we assessing whether it is successful? Is higher standards of competition the end in itself? Is it about getting more spectators watching than amateur RL? Is it about growing the number of players? If the last option, I think it's less clear-cut whether League 1 offers the best mechanism to do this.

4 hours ago, bowes said:

Unless they could get into the National Conference League there wouldn't be much of a local amateur game to play in for them, the midlands league is just a merit league now and the Conference League South doesn't have any midlands teams in it.

Nottingham Outlaws are a good amateur side, but it does help that they're close enough to Yorkshire to play in a Yorkshire based league. 

They've been in the NCL before so you would think they'd be allowed in again. Both that and CLS would probably be less travel than League 1, and again, no more travel than the last time they were amateur. The North West league would be another option. 

 

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1 hour ago, Saint 1 said:

Coventry started playing in their stadium in 2004, 11 years before they joined League 1. RL might have a smaller presence, it might not, I just don't think arguing it's as clear cut as people make out - how are we defining 'presence'? Did the number of RL players in Coventry increase when they joined League 1? Even before they joined League 1 they were a great amateur club who ran lots of junior age groups and had a first team based entirely in the Midlands. 

If you look at Hemel Stags, when they dropped out of League 1, did RL have a bigger or smaller presence in Hemel? They now have 2 teams of Hemel based players - in League 1 their 1st team would have had a handful Hemel-based players while their 2nd team would have been Hemel based. They still run juniors at most age groups. They're now launching a women's team which they didn't have while in League 1. Hemel leaving League 1 has arguably led to an increased presence of RL in Hemel. Conversely, it has led to a decline in Oxford.

More generally, specifically what is the point of League 1? What is the purpose it is trying to fill and how are we assessing whether it is successful? Is higher standards of competition the end in itself? Is it about getting more spectators watching than amateur RL? Is it about growing the number of players? If the last option, I think it's less clear-cut whether League 1 offers the best mechanism to do this.

They've been in the NCL before so you would think they'd be allowed in again. Both that and CLS would probably be less travel than League 1, and again, no more travel than the last time they were amateur. The North West league would be another option. 

I mean, they've been launching their schools programme and are creating 3 new junior clubs in the local area. I'm not part of their club so I don't have access to any genuine figures, but based off their profile and messaging it sounds a lot like there are now more people playing RL in Coventry.

I don't know if you've been involved in running a club or not yourself, but from my experience, an amateur club is almost always running on extremely limited budgets - having some central funding available seems to have allowed Coventry to help build the community side of their club. Anecdotally on these forums, it sounds like they're receiving more in central funding than they spend on their playing budget, so some of that money is likely spent on building their community work.

You're right - Hemel are probably doing better now at growing the whole game than they were in League 1 but that's because exiting League 1 lead to a mindset shift - they decided to rebuild their club as a community club - this was part of their announcement. Essentially, they realised that trying to use players from Dewsbury wasn't sustainable. Coventry, OTOH, seem to have been building towards a sustainable model all along. It's worth noting that when they withdrew from League 1, Hemel mentioned their intention to return to League 1 in 2020 - obviously COVID will have had an impact on that. But it's a red herring either way - Hemel got stronger at their community side because they started focusing on it, nothing to do with funding specifically. A club focusing on its community work will be able to do more with more funding.

I don't know what the RFL consider the point of League 1 to be, but for me it should be a breeding ground for clubs making an amateur-to-semi-professional transition. A club like Coventry or Hemel could use it as a chance to take the next step from being a strong community club - so the success will be a combination of playing standards and commercial standards (supporter base, sponsorship revenues etc) with a view to creating sustainable professional clubs.

Even if you didn't agree with that as a purpose, it's still not fair to a club in League 1 to slash their funding by as much as 80% without even telling them! The League 1 clubs still haven't even been told what funding they're going to get. How are clubs supposed to plan ahead and recruit, or put in new programmes if they don't know how much money they're going to get?

Finally, you can try and pick out an amateur league for them to play in, but as someone pointed out - they would be too good for the Midlands league and any other league is going to have a lot of travel. The fact that it's less travel than League 1 is irrelevant because they currently get funded to travel in League 1. An amateur league wouldn't have that.

I don't see how fans of the sport can accept this kind of contraction so easily. "Oh well they could always play in the NW league." Might as well just tell us you don't want a thriving sport and be done with it.

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1 hour ago, Saint 1 said:

Coventry started playing in their stadium in 2004, 11 years before they joined League 1. RL might have a smaller presence, it might not, I just don't think arguing it's as clear cut as people make out - how are we defining 'presence'? Did the number of RL players in Coventry increase when they joined League 1? Even before they joined League 1 they were a great amateur club who ran lots of junior age groups and had a first team based entirely in the Midlands. 

If you look at Hemel Stags, when they dropped out of League 1, did RL have a bigger or smaller presence in Hemel? They now have 2 teams of Hemel based players - in League 1 their 1st team would have had a handful Hemel-based players while their 2nd team would have been Hemel based. They still run juniors at most age groups. They're now launching a women's team which they didn't have while in League 1. Hemel leaving League 1 has arguably led to an increased presence of RL in Hemel. Conversely, it has led to a decline in Oxford.

More generally, specifically what is the point of League 1? What is the purpose it is trying to fill and how are we assessing whether it is successful? Is higher standards of competition the end in itself? Is it about getting more spectators watching than amateur RL? Is it about growing the number of players? If the last option, I think it's less clear-cut whether League 1 offers the best mechanism to do this.

They've been in the NCL before so you would think they'd be allowed in again. Both that and CLS would probably be less travel than League 1, and again, no more travel than the last time they were amateur. The North West league would be another option. 

 

Coventry amateurs have been offered a place in NW before - not sure why they didn’t enter in the end

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1 hour ago, zylya said:

I mean, they've been launching their schools programme and are creating 3 new junior clubs in the local area. I'm not part of their club so I don't have access to any genuine figures, but based off their profile and messaging it sounds a lot like there are now more people playing RL in Coventry.

I don't know if you've been involved in running a club or not yourself, but from my experience, an amateur club is almost always running on extremely limited budgets - having some central funding available seems to have allowed Coventry to help build the community side of their club. Anecdotally on these forums, it sounds like they're receiving more in central funding than they spend on their playing budget, so some of that money is likely spent on building their community work.

You're right - Hemel are probably doing better now at growing the whole game than they were in League 1 but that's because exiting League 1 lead to a mindset shift - they decided to rebuild their club as a community club - this was part of their announcement. Essentially, they realised that trying to use players from Dewsbury wasn't sustainable. Coventry, OTOH, seem to have been building towards a sustainable model all along. It's worth noting that when they withdrew from League 1, Hemel mentioned their intention to return to League 1 in 2020 - obviously COVID will have had an impact on that. But it's a red herring either way - Hemel got stronger at their community side because they started focusing on it, nothing to do with funding specifically. A club focusing on its community work will be able to do more with more funding.

I don't know what the RFL consider the point of League 1 to be, but for me it should be a breeding ground for clubs making an amateur-to-semi-professional transition. A club like Coventry or Hemel could use it as a chance to take the next step from being a strong community club - so the success will be a combination of playing standards and commercial standards (supporter base, sponsorship revenues etc) with a view to creating sustainable professional clubs.

Even if you didn't agree with that as a purpose, it's still not fair to a club in League 1 to slash their funding by as much as 80% without even telling them! The League 1 clubs still haven't even been told what funding they're going to get. How are clubs supposed to plan ahead and recruit, or put in new programmes if they don't know how much money they're going to get?

Finally, you can try and pick out an amateur league for them to play in, but as someone pointed out - they would be too good for the Midlands league and any other league is going to have a lot of travel. The fact that it's less travel than League 1 is irrelevant because they currently get funded to travel in League 1. An amateur league wouldn't have that.

I don't see how fans of the sport can accept this kind of contraction so easily. "Oh well they could always play in the NW league." Might as well just tell us you don't want a thriving sport and be done with it.

You've summed it up marvellously there.

 

If they told Rochdale or Hunslet to restart as an amateur club, how would that go down?

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35 minutes ago, zylya said:

I mean, they've been launching their schools programme and are creating 3 new junior clubs in the local area. I'm not part of their club so I don't have access to any genuine figures, but based off their profile and messaging it sounds a lot like there are now more people playing RL in Coventry.

I don't know if you've been involved in running a club or not yourself, but from my experience, an amateur club is almost always running on extremely limited budgets - having some central funding available seems to have allowed Coventry to help build the community side of their club. Anecdotally on these forums, it sounds like they're receiving more in central funding than they spend on their playing budget, so some of that money is likely spent on building their community work.

The 3 new junior clubs come primarily from the RLWC2021 funding (they got a grant of £15,000 for it) - as far as I can see this wasn't to do with their status as a professional club, as plenty of amateur clubs have also received RLWC2021 grants. Schools programmes and juniors aren't contingent on their membership in League 1. From a participation POV, it's great if they are using some of their central funding to subsidise their community work, but a lot of the anecdotes on here simply aren't very reliable. 

35 minutes ago, zylya said:

You're right - Hemel are probably doing better now at growing the whole game than they were in League 1 but that's because exiting League 1 lead to a mindset shift - they decided to rebuild their club as a community club - this was part of their announcement. Essentially, they realised that trying to use players from Dewsbury wasn't sustainable. Coventry, OTOH, seem to have been building towards a sustainable model all along. It's worth noting that when they withdrew from League 1, Hemel mentioned their intention to return to League 1 in 2020 - obviously COVID will have had an impact on that. But it's a red herring either way - Hemel got stronger at their community side because they started focusing on it, nothing to do with funding specifically. A club focusing on its community work will be able to do more with more funding.

Hemel were able to focus on their community side because they no longer had to focus on competing in League 1. Is your argument that an expansion club being primarily based on existing heartland players isn't sustainable? As far as I can tell, Coventry had 4 players from the Midlands in their game vs Doncaster. That's completely understandable because ultimately they are trying to compete and win games at that level, but it does mean the difference in player sourcing between them and Hemel isn't as great as you imply. 

35 minutes ago, zylya said:

I don't know what the RFL consider the point of League 1 to be, but for me it should be a breeding ground for clubs making an amateur-to-semi-professional transition. A club like Coventry or Hemel could use it as a chance to take the next step from being a strong community club - so the success will be a combination of playing standards and commercial standards (supporter base, sponsorship revenues etc) with a view to creating sustainable professional clubs.

Even if you didn't agree with that as a purpose, it's still not fair to a club in League 1 to slash their funding by as much as 80% without even telling them! The League 1 clubs still haven't even been told what funding they're going to get. How are clubs supposed to plan ahead and recruit, or put in new programmes if they don't know how much money they're going to get?

Finally, you can try and pick out an amateur league for them to play in, but as someone pointed out - they would be too good for the Midlands league and any other league is going to have a lot of travel. The fact that it's less travel than League 1 is irrelevant because they currently get funded to travel in League 1. An amateur league wouldn't have that.

I don't see how fans of the sport can accept this kind of contraction so easily. "Oh well they could always play in the NW league." Might as well just tell us you don't want a thriving sport and be done with it.

I agree completely that it is poor with regards to the lack of communication and the uncertainty hanging over them at this stage of the year. Sadly it is also not too surprising for the RFL. 

Last time Coventry were amateur they played in NCL. Plenty of NCL teams manage to travel regularly. Even in 2016 when Coventry's 2nd Team played in Conference League South, they played in a league with teams in Nottingham, South Wales x2, West Wales, Gloucester and London - most of these were amateur. 

My initial post just said that it wasn't a binary choice whereby if Coventry don't get their £80k, then RL ceases to exist in Coventry. Coventry are a well-run club and if they weren't in League 1, they would likely continue to run juniors and have adult teams, just like plenty of other community clubs manage to do. If so many fans (and indeed administrators) of RL didn't see expansion as something that can only occur when teams enter League 1 and pay their players, the game would likely be more successful. Bedford Tigers are currently running two men's teams, an u18s team and a women's team - are we going to tell them that type of community development should only be possible by entering League 1? 

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4 minutes ago, RigbyLuger said:

You've summed it up marvellously there.

 

If they told Rochdale or Hunslet to restart as an amateur club, how would that go down?

Yes it's pretty noticeable which clubs are always told that they should have their status removed and which get free passes 

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23 minutes ago, RigbyLuger said:

You've summed it up marvellously there.

 

If they told Rochdale or Hunslet to restart as an amateur club, how would that go down?

 

17 minutes ago, Jeff Stein said:

Yes it's pretty noticeable which clubs are always told that they should have their status removed and which get free passes 

I'd ask exactly the same question of Rochdale and Hunslet - for their £80k, what do they offer above and beyond what Rochdale Mayfield and Hunslet Club Parkside offer? 

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32 minutes ago, Saint 1 said:

  

 

I'd ask exactly the same question of Rochdale and Hunslet - for their £80k, what do they offer above and beyond what Rochdale Mayfield and Hunslet Club Parkside offer? 

That's good of you - strange you didn't before it was pointed out 

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1 hour ago, Saint 1 said:

The 3 new junior clubs come primarily from the RLWC2021 funding (they got a grant of £15,000 for it) - as far as I can see this wasn't to do with their status as a professional club, as plenty of amateur clubs have also received RLWC2021 grants. Schools programmes and juniors aren't contingent on their membership in League 1. From a participation POV, it's great if they are using some of their central funding to subsidise their community work, but a lot of the anecdotes on here simply aren't very reliable. 

Hemel were able to focus on their community side because they no longer had to focus on competing in League 1. Is your argument that an expansion club being primarily based on existing heartland players isn't sustainable? As far as I can tell, Coventry had 4 players from the Midlands in their game vs Doncaster. That's completely understandable because ultimately they are trying to compete and win games at that level, but it does mean the difference in player sourcing between them and Hemel isn't as great as you imply. 

I agree completely that it is poor with regards to the lack of communication and the uncertainty hanging over them at this stage of the year. Sadly it is also not too surprising for the RFL. 

Last time Coventry were amateur they played in NCL. Plenty of NCL teams manage to travel regularly. Even in 2016 when Coventry's 2nd Team played in Conference League South, they played in a league with teams in Nottingham, South Wales x2, West Wales, Gloucester and London - most of these were amateur. 

My initial post just said that it wasn't a binary choice whereby if Coventry don't get their £80k, then RL ceases to exist in Coventry. Coventry are a well-run club and if they weren't in League 1, they would likely continue to run juniors and have adult teams, just like plenty of other community clubs manage to do. If so many fans (and indeed administrators) of RL didn't see expansion as something that can only occur when teams enter League 1 and pay their players, the game would likely be more successful. Bedford Tigers are currently running two men's teams, an u18s team and a women's team - are we going to tell them that type of community development should only be possible by entering League 1? 

I think the point that we agree on is that RL happening in these places is good and that, should a club like Coventry stop receiving funding then HOPEFULLY (although no guarantees as evidenced by their chairman talking about how disastrous the lack of funding would be for them in the short-term) they can continue as a Rugby League club of some sort, even if that scales back what they can achieve. Your point about the great work of amateur clubs is 100% right and something that we should always be encouraging.

But the point that I think maybe we're not agreeing on is that the growth of the game can't JUST happen at a participation level. I'm not necessarily suggesting that Coventry specifically could/would develop into a full-time professional club, which would increase the spread of the game and provide player pathways in new areas, but that pathway needs to exist. If we gut the second and third tiers and clubs go to the wall, what chance does any club have in the future if they don't have a multimillionaire backer? Against a backdrop of reduced funding across the board, where financial backers can pull out and mismanagement can cause a lot of pain to clubs, we should be encouraging clubs that are turning professional in a more sustainable way. For me, the amount of money to fund League 1 as a developing semi-professional competition is small in the big picture, but big for the clubs involved. If necessary, earmark some of that funding to ensure clubs are operating sustainably, but I can't see how a big drop in League 1 funding won't cause significant damage, especially in these non-heartland areas.

The game can't just turn into 20 pro clubs and everyone else amateur - it needs to be more than that for the long-term health of the sport.

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36 minutes ago, Jeff Stein said:

Perhaps you should start a thread pointing out the worthlessness of Hunslet and Rochdale then?

I didn't start this thread either Jeff. Do you really think amateur clubs are worthless? 

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Let's hope this isnt the end of the Coventry Bears, it is disappointing that many followers of higher ranking teams would be quite happy to remove any presence of the sport in the Midlands to preserve an extra few quid, indeed an outsider looking in who wanted the game to expand and sell more sponsorship would be saying here is 1.8 million let's build up a club in the 9th largest city in the uk

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7 minutes ago, Route66 said:

Let's hope this isnt the end of the Coventry Bears, it is disappointing that many followers of higher ranking teams would be quite happy to remove any presence of the sport in the Midlands to preserve an extra few quid, indeed an outsider looking in who wanted the game to expand and sell more sponsorship would be saying here is 1.8 million let's build up a club in the 9th largest city in the uk

Digs at fans of the bigger SL teams aren't half tiring. I have read post after post from fans of these teams saying huge cuts to league 1 clubs are wrong and shouldn't happen. I have certainly seen as many posts from fans of some Championship clubs who are quite happy with cuts to league 1 and are quite happy with uneven funding as long as they are okay and on the right side of the drawbridge. 

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On 12/09/2021 at 15:56, Spidey said:

Coventry amateurs have been offered a place in NW before - not sure why they didn’t enter in the end

I think this was Coventry Dragons. I remember they ended up joining the London Premier Division instead but then folded rather than playing the season. I can't remember why they suddenly folded though (they were a strong side up until that point). Northampton Demons suddenly collapsed at the same time, they were the strongest amateur clubs in the midlands (after Nottingham) so it was a shock, especially as Leicester Storm had folded not long before.

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