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40k+ Neutrals Required for Big Events - The Game Needs a Plan


Scubby
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First of all, the occasion last night was great. It was my first GF for a number of years and the game always produces. I was happy given Covid 2021 (and fact it was Catalans) that 45k were there to make it a great occasion. I am a hardcore RL fans and I will always be easily pleased.

However, many of us have said we need a big year in 2022 and big years are built on events. It is not rocket science that a strong core of neutrals and pre sales are required for the Challenge Cup, Magic, GF and RLWC to make them a success. You cannot build a strategy on let's hope Saints and Leeds or Hull get there and save our bacon.

The reality is that teams like Catalans and Toronto (had it worked out) and maybe Toulouse in future or whoever will keep making it to the finals of big showpiece events over the next 10-20 years. If these games are in London or Manchester or Newcastle or wherever, the sport needs to find a way to get 40k+ neutral fans (locals/heartlands) to purchase tickets to the "Event" not just in the week leading up to the final.

The game desperately needs to invest in a major events team to look at what makes a major event special to a neutral fan. Think about strategy, entertainment, marketing, experience. Forget week-to-week to some extent, event moments are what the game lives off. Ticket allocations to the finalists/clubs should be the icing on the baked cake not the saving face of a major RL event. Selling an event to a newbie or neutral fan is a completely different experience to finalists or competition teams. They want to know about things like entertainment, fan zones, alcohol free zones, schedules, timetables, special guests etc. (weeks and months in advance not days).

We have to spend and invest to make these occasions special for our game. This is not a doom and gloom thread - the sport can do this. It has to change its attitude though.

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51 minutes ago, Johnoco said:

I was with you up until the alcohol free bit (shudder) 😎

😄

Well I have never drunk alcohol so lol. However, yesterday despite being in a less populated block I noticed there were quite a few lads on the beers were obviously in a boisterous and lathered state by kick off.

It has its place but other sports do family and alcohol free sections.

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8 minutes ago, Scubby said:

😄

Well I have never drunk alcohol so lol. However, yesterday despite being in a less populated block I noticed there were quite a few lads on the beers were obviously in a boisterous and lathered state by kick off.

It has its place but other sports do family and alcohol free sections.

In all seriousness, it's a perfectly good idea. You don't want to be sat with the kids and a load of tanked up idiots (like me) 

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7 minutes ago, Johnoco said:

 

I completely agree. We need these big events to be in demand long before the finalists are known. If 40k plus tickets or 2/3 of tickets (depending on the venue) can be sold weeks in advance then once the fixture or fixtures are confirmed there can be a scramble for the remaining allocated tickets.

RL big events always produce on the field and if they look like a big deal to non RL fans then it should have a positive effect on the whole game

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1 hour ago, Scubby said:

First of all, the occasion last night was great. It was my first GF for a number of years and the game always produces. I was happy given Covid 2021 (and fact it was Catalans) that 45k were there to make it a great occasion. I am a hardcore RL fans and I will always be easily pleased.

However, many of us have said we need a big year in 2022 and big years are built on events. It is not rocket science that a strong core of neutrals and pre sales are required for the Challenge Cup, Magic, GF and RLWC to make them a success. You cannot build a strategy on let's hope Saints and Leeds or Hull get there and save our bacon.

The reality is that teams like Catalans and Toronto (had it worked out) and maybe Toulouse in future or whoever will keep making it to the finals of big showpiece events over the next 10-20 years. If these games are in London or Manchester or Newcastle or wherever, the sport needs to find a way to get 40k+ neutral fans (locals/heartlands) to purchase tickets to the "Event" not just in the week leading up to the final.

The game desperately needs to invest in a major events team to look at what makes a major event special to a neutral fan. Think about strategy, entertainment, marketing, experience. Forget week-to-week to some extent, event moments are what the game lives off. Ticket allocations to the finalists/clubs should be the icing on the baked cake not the saving face of a major RL event. Selling an event to a newbie or neutral fan is a completely different experience to finalists or competition teams. They want to know about things like entertainment, fan zones, alcohol free zones, schedules, timetables, special guests etc. (weeks and months in advance not days).

We have to spend and invest to make these occasions special for our game. This is not a doom and gloom thread - the sport can do this. It has to change its attitude though.

Don't you think this is all a generation thing as well. Our group have attended the Cup Final for years on end. At one time we had over 80, now we are lucky to get 10. We used to see shirts of virtually every Club at Wembley, it was a tradition. Younger people don't seem to be up for it, too many other things to do. Also, a lot of fans have turned their back on the game in the SL era. I know you can argue other Sports fill big Stadiums for big events, but TL doesn't seem to have the pulling power anymore. I  wonder what percentage of members of our Clubs are under 25?

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Can’t agree more @Scubby. At there mere mention of the smaller crowd prior to KO yesterday, a familiar boring voice called me a tool. 

The SL GF should be a sellout no matter who is playing. A Brisbane v Nth Queensland NRL GF will be sold out in Sydney. A Penrith v Souths GF will be sold out in Brisbane.

I can’t understand how the sport does not have at least 60k neutral fans keen to go to the biggest game of the season in person.

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28 minutes ago, Gooleboy said:

Don't you think this is all a generation thing as well. Our group have attended the Cup Final for years on end. At one time we had over 80, now we are lucky to get 10. We used to see shirts of virtually every Club at Wembley, it was a tradition. Younger people don't seem to be up for it, too many other things to do. Also, a lot of fans have turned their back on the game in the SL era. I know you can argue other Sports fill big Stadiums for big events, but TL doesn't seem to have the pulling power anymore. I  wonder what percentage of members of our Clubs are under 25?

Yes which is why we have to tap into new event audiences or suffer.

The 2013 RLWC showed it can be done. Two thirds of that 67.5k crowd were from outside the heartlands. It was marketed using a specialist company at The Big One etc. 

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1 hour ago, Dave T said:

Is 40k neutrals a realistic objective? That needs to be the starting point of the discussion. We can't just use the number 40,000 because that is the size of Wembley (minus finalist fans). 

Yes 40k+ pre sold for both finals is realistic. Currently and based on last couple of attended Wembley and Grand finals my guess is we are down to 20-25k tops.

We build from there. There has to be a new specialist events team created with a sole task of marketing and creating new strategies for RLs marquee events. As Googleboy mentioned going back to the drying well is not an option.

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26 minutes ago, Sports Prophet said:

I can’t understand how the sport does not have at least 60k neutral fans keen to go to the biggest game of the season in person.

COVID 19 is a massive reason. Without it we would have had the Ashes tests and the World Cup. As "Big" as it goes.

That is some momentum lost. As well as the understandable apprehension of attending large events that some and sufficiently some feel.

But I also might ask you to look to the persistent failure of the RFL and the big clubs to listen to supporters, the continuation of gratuitous schemes like Thursday night games or endless structural tweaks, poor refereeing, apathy from those fans whose clubs repetitively succeed each season and dismay from the reverse who don't in a rigged and contrived system run by fellas who disappear for months or greedily swallow enormous redundancy deals. . 

And then you might be able to answer your own question. 

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As Catalans have made two finals in the last few years and are quite likely to do so again, it is something that we need to look at. We can no longer rely solely on club fans to fill our stadiums for finals. 

A good starting point would be to fish where the fish are. Local amateur and junior teams in the Greater Manchester area for the Grand Final and in the London area for Wembley. Don't just give them tickets, make it something to remember - a stadium tour for the amateur team who can sell the most (discounted) tickets, a chance to meet the players for the junior players. A tour of the TV set, a chance to meet the pundits. Hey, why not even do a raffle for one of them to present the trophy? Prizes like a training session with England internationals for the team who sells the most tickets.

The match itself is no longer enough of an appeal. We need to make sure that it is an 'experience' and there are options to do that which don't involve much or any expense.

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53 minutes ago, Sports Prophet said:

Can’t agree more @Scubby. At there mere mention of the smaller crowd prior to KO yesterday, a familiar boring voice called me a tool. 

The SL GF should be a sellout no matter who is playing. A Brisbane v Nth Queensland NRL GF will be sold out in Sydney. A Penrith v Souths GF will be sold out in Brisbane.

I can’t understand how the sport does not have at least 60k neutral fans keen to go to the biggest game of the season in person.

The Challenge Cup Final used to be the big day out where fans of al clubs would attend regardless of who was playing and the Grand Final up until this year would regularly get 60k-65k. Hopefully this year for the GF this was a one off. 

General sports fans who want to go to a big event should be targeted rather than existing fans as I think a reason for attendances not being what they should be, especially for the Cup Final, is that a lot of fans are only interested in their team so if their teams aren’t in the final they don’t go. You see it at the Magic Weekend when fans will take their seats before their teams game and then leave when the game ends.

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1 hour ago, Scubby said:

Yes 40k+ pre sold for both finals is realistic. Currently and based on last couple of attended Wembley and Grand finals my guess is we are down to 20-25k tops.

We build from there. There has to be a new specialist events team created with a sole task of marketing and creating new strategies for RLs marquee events. As Googleboy mentioned going back to the drying well is not an option.

I'm just not sure it is to be perfectly honest. Not many sports do. 

Even the FA Cup final doesn't get that and it doesn't sell out. 

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10 minutes ago, Liverpool Rover said:

The Challenge Cup Final used to be the big day out where fans of al clubs would attend regardless of who was playing and the Grand Final up until this year would regularly get 60k-65k. Hopefully this year for the GF this was a one off. 

General sports fans who want to go to a big event should be targeted rather than existing fans as I think a reason for attendances not being what they should be, especially for the Cup Final, is that a lot of fans are only interested in their team so if their teams aren’t in the final they don’t go. You see it at the Magic Weekend when fans will take their seats before their teams game and then leave when the game ends.

I agree totally. However, that doesn’t answer my concern.

Why is there not 60k neutral RL fans willing to attend last night’s SL GF played in the North?

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11 minutes ago, Dave T said:

I'm just not sure it is to be perfectly honest. Not many sports do. 

Even the FA Cup final doesn't get that and it doesn't sell out. 

By neutrals I am talking pre sales. By pre sales it is neutral fans and local area residents.

Greater Manchester, Tyne and Wear and London/SE are huge population centres.

I went out of my way to go yesterday as it was Catalans and I knew I could sit in a quiet part of the stadium. Even then there was a rowdy on the ###### feel to the sections around me and seeing one group of women and kids looking uneasy as they clambered back and forth over seats with bottles and rowdy japes got me thinking about their experience.

That has its place (dont get me wrong it pays the bills) but we need a complete rethink on how to attract families and neutrals to big RL days out. To me, we need a whole task force created as it is obvious many people across the UK find RL thoroughly enjoyable but may not yet fancy going to a live event.

Big task ahead but doable IMO.

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I have reached a time in my life when I don't want to be surrounded by drunken idiots with more than enough itching for a fight.

And I certainly wouldn't be taking my family to one. 

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"The history of the world is the history of the triumph of the heartless over the mindless." — Sir Humphrey Appleby.

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Maybe an extension on the Family section. I am not a "woke" type but a model of attendance singularly based on daft lads on the pish is clearly limiting given the breadth of today's society.

There again I might be minded that if we went for true diversity, then surely we need a crafts ale and continental lagers section and a single malt quartier of the ground 🥃😀

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It's not out of the realms of possibility that Catalans will make the next 2 GFs at Old Trafford or maybe a CC final. 

We should be thinking about this as an opportunity to embrace change and mindset, not sulk because Leeds and Wigan aren't there.

We have had it easy for too long - doing bare minimum and hoping finalists fill the shortfall. We can be so much better than this.

If we do get a Leeds v Saints GF then we reap the benefit of all this work as the house full signs go up.

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3 hours ago, Scubby said:

😄

Well I have never drunk alcohol so lol. However, yesterday despite being in a less populated block I noticed there were quite a few lads on the beers were obviously in a boisterous and lathered state by kick off.

It has its place but other sports do family and alcohol free sections.

True, but it’s a great thing that the fans at RL mix freely and there is so little trouble, a mixed football crowd like that would be horrendous. 

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20 minutes ago, idrewthehaggis said:

Maybe an extension on the Family section. I am not a "woke" type but a model of attendance singularly based on daft lads on the pish is clearly limiting given the breadth of today's society.

There again I might be minded that if we went for true diversity, then surely we need a crafts ale and continental lagers section and a single malt quartier of the ground 🥃😀

If there weren’t daft lads on the ale having a good time they could play the game at Prenton Park and struggle to fill it. But yes a dry section of the ground would be welcomed by many I’m sure, not that I’d want to be in it. 

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Couple of ideas I’ve seen on social media and thought up myself, worth sharing for all to discuss:

1) £60 Big3 ticket, allowing entry to CC final, the GF and a home international/one day of Magic. 
 

2) 24 hour offer for 24 hours the moment the grand final whistle blows. 5,000 tickets available at £5 each. Have a big countdown on social media/SL website, instant email to all on RFL/SL mailing list. 
 

3) X amount of free tickets to the junior club of any participating player in the grand final. Let the future watch the present via a thank you for their hard work in developing them in those early days.

4) Better, more publicised entertainment.

5) Minor European international finals (similar to Serbia vs Ukraine this weekend) on the Friday and have them as special guests. Adds an international, multi-cultural flavour to proceedings


 

 

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1 hour ago, Scubby said:

By neutrals I am talking pre sales. By pre sales it is neutral fans and local area residents.

Greater Manchester, Tyne and Wear and London/SE are huge population centres.

I went out of my way to go yesterday as it was Catalans and I knew I could sit in a quiet part of the stadium. Even then there was a rowdy on the ###### feel to the sections around me and seeing one group of women and kids looking uneasy as they clambered back and forth over seats with bottles and rowdy japes got me thinking about their experience.

That has its place (dont get me wrong it pays the bills) but we need a complete rethink on how to attract families and neutrals to big RL days out. To me, we need a whole task force created as it is obvious many people across the UK find RL thoroughly enjoyable but may not yet fancy going to a live event.

Big task ahead but doable IMO.

Yes, I agree with the principle and the solution, we just need to be clear on the outcome, that may be that we get 25k neutrals and then 20k per team to give us 65k. 40k may not be the right target is my point. 

As a sport I think we do rather well with neutrals, possibly better than most others considering our much smaller footprint. 

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2 hours ago, Dave T said:

Yes, I agree with the principle and the solution, we just need to be clear on the outcome, that may be that we get 25k neutrals and then 20k per team to give us 65k. 40k may not be the right target is my point. 

As a sport I think we do rather well with neutrals, possibly better than most others considering our much smaller footprint. 

Much better I think, my mates who came with me yesterday who’d never been to RL before and knew next to nothing about it were very impressed at how so many fans with different shirts are there and all mixing with no trouble. 

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