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


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The Grand Final should be like the Euro Final in football and Union and move around… across UK and Europe.

Yes OT is a prestigious name as a home and is a big stadium in the heartlands but there are drawbacks. It is too big, is cramped, the pitch is too small and it all feels dated and there is no novelty factor there of going  to a new stadium.

Let other cities bid for it like the World Cup. 

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13 hours ago, Scubby said:

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.

For international RL, World Cup especially, it might be possible to attract more neutrals and casuals by dint of effective promotion. But for club games, even major events, the constituency that identifies with the game generically is no longer large enough to draw from.

The attachment isn`t passed down the generations like it used to be, we get little help from the national media, so grass roots participation is the only way to widen the general fanbase. That cannot be done with Tackle RL. It can only happen through non-contact forms.

NRL administrators are increasingly stressing this point. The new Brisbane franchise will have to spend a mandated amount of money on participation. Existing NRL clubs are being offered perpetual licences in return for similar commitments. And V`landys and Abdo always now present RL participation as Touch, Tag, and Contact.

If participation is vital in NSW and QLD where RL receives blanket media coverage, the same must be true for RL in the UK. The RFL should have been orchestrating investment in non-contact forms through community clubs in all parts of the country decades ago. In my view, that remains our best option to forge links with the game, over and above individual pro club affiliations. Not a quick fix, but I don`t think any quick fixes are available.

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13 hours ago, Johnoco said:

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) 

 

10 hours ago, Dunbar said:

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. 

There`s no doubt hooliganism brought Soccer crowds down through the 70s. Attending a game was perceived as an unpleasant and dangerous experience. Unless you were a teenage yob. Families stopped going, or never started going. By the 80s, you could see the full effects. 

In relation to RL, I`ve reached a time when I`ve had my fill of blokes dementedly shouting "Forward" and "Gerrumonside". These are the "tanked up idiots" I don`t want to be surrounded by, whether they`ve been drinking or not.

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1 hour ago, clogdance said:

Rugby League in this country is doomed, so we need more French teams in OUR leagues.  😃

Not sure how many times people need to be reminded that the E in SLE stands for Europe as opposed to England.

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6 hours ago, unapologetic pedant said:

 

There`s no doubt hooliganism brought Soccer crowds down through the 70s. Attending a game was perceived as an unpleasant and dangerous experience. Unless you were a teenage yob. Families stopped going, or never started going. By the 80s, you could see the full effects. 

In relation to RL, I`ve reached a time when I`ve had my fill of blokes dementedly shouting "Forward" and "Gerrumonside". These are the "tanked up idiots" I don`t want to be surrounded by, whether they`ve been drinking or not.

You're correct in that analysis but there's a difference between an overenthusiastic fan being a bit annoying or totally one eyed and the threat of physical attack from a bunch of drunk idiots.

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18 hours ago, Chris22 said:

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.

Totally agree Chris.  Surely a month ago when it was obvious that Catalans may top the league and be one home game away from the GF the RFL/SL should have contacted every amateur club throughout the country with under age players and said ‘If Catalans are in the Final we will be giving 5,000 tickets to clubs across the UK that run under age teams.  But all the tickets minus the supervising adults must go to under age players’.

Amateur clubs would have had plenty of time to ask around the club about interest and book a Coach(es).  Once Catalans beat Hull KR then everything was in place.  What an experience it would be for those youngsters.

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1 hour ago, Johnoco said:

You're correct in that analysis but there's a difference between an overenthusiastic fan being a bit annoying or totally one eyed and the threat of physical attack from a bunch of drunk idiots.

Of course you are right Johno' but its very difficult for newcomers (especially) to tell the difference.

I took a mate to the Leigh v Toronto game in the Summer Bash and he said the football was great, but he would never go again.

He felt intimated (put at risk) by the ''attitude'' and behaviour of some of (a lot of) the fans.

Alcohol free, or family zones is a good idea in my opinion and I'd suggest some coaching by the clubs (of their fans) about appropriate behaviour on the terraces.

Poor behaviour adversely affects newcomer's desire to revisit. It's a fact. 

 

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1 hour ago, fighting irish said:

Of course you are right Johno' but its very difficult for newcomers (especially) to tell the difference.

I took a mate to the Leigh v Toronto game in the Summer Bash and he said the football was great, but he would never go again.

He felt intimated (put at risk) by the ''attitude'' and behaviour of some of (a lot of) the fans.

Alcohol free, or family zones is a good idea in my opinion and I'd suggest some coaching by the clubs (of their fans) about appropriate behaviour on the terraces.

Poor behaviour adversely affects newcomer's desire to revisit. It's a fact. 

 

I'm sorry to hear about your friends experience but in my own, it's very rare. I do agree with the post though.

Bradford used to have announcements asking people to refrain from bad language on the terraces, so it's not that new an idea either.

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On 10/10/2021 at 11:14, Johnoco said:

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) 

We talked about next year bringing our young kids..... Would probably need to be a family zone for us to consider it. The booziness was fine for us as we're on it too but it's too boisterous/sweary for kids under 12

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21 hours ago, welshmagpie said:

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


 

 

Some solid ideas there.

We all know if it was opened up to the supporters then there would be a flowering of ideas, suggestions and plans.

And then we know that 90% of them would be daft, unworkable and fantasy.

Only 1 in 10 would work.

That would though by ten times more than the RFL and the SL elite could muster.

Let the people speak RL.

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9 hours ago, UTK said:

Not sure how many times people need to be reminded that the E in SLE stands for Europe as opposed to England.

It should also be pointed out that there is no E in the title of the competition. It is called the Betfred Super League. The only reference to Europe is in the trading name really. 

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4 hours ago, Johnoco said:

You're correct in that analysis but there's a difference between an overenthusiastic fan being a bit annoying or totally one eyed and the threat of physical attack from a bunch of drunk idiots.

People are aware that "being a bit annoying" can abruptly turn into a "threat of physical attack" when the person "being a bit annoying" is asked to desist from "being a bit annoying". So rather than risk an unpredictable altercation, they just make up their mind never to go back. All the more so if they had taken the family with them.

And the "overenthusiasm" can be relentless and mounting. "Forward" is upgraded to "A mile forward, referee". "Gerrumonside" is cranked up to "Two yards offside, referee". And so it goes on.

If shouting "Forward" and "Gerrumonside" isn`t your idea of a good time, you won`t relish being stuck next to idiots shouting "Forward" and "Gerrumonside" for 80 minutes.

As you and others have said, we need areas in grounds where people who just want to enjoy themselves can be around others who just want to enjoy themselves. Fans of that sort are more likely to make up the 40k neutrals the OP is looking for.

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1 hour ago, Bedfordshire Bronco said:

We talked about next year bringing our young kids..... Would probably need to be a family zone for us to consider it. The booziness was fine for us as we're on it too but it's too boisterous/sweary for kids under 12

You could always ask the wife to tone it down? 😛

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5 minutes ago, unapologetic pedant said:

People are aware that "being a bit annoying" can abruptly turn into a "threat of physical attack" when the person "being a bit annoying" is asked to desist from "being a bit annoying". So rather than risk an unpredictable altercation, they just make up their mind never to go back. All the more so if they had taken the family with them.

And the "overenthusiasm" can be relentless and mounting. "Forward" is upgraded to "A mile forward, referee". "Gerrumonside" is cranked up to "Two yards offside, referee". And so it goes on.

If shouting "Forward" and "Gerrumonside" isn`t your idea of a good time, you won`t relish being stuck next to idiots shouting "Forward" and "Gerrumonside" for 80 minutes.

As you and others have said, we need areas in grounds where people who just want to enjoy themselves can be around others who just want to enjoy themselves. Fans of that sort are more likely to make up the 40k neutrals the OP is looking for.

There was a family zone at this years GF. 

But I concur, casual punters may well be put off by that scenario. 

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8 hours ago, fighting irish said:

Of course you are right Johno' but its very difficult for newcomers (especially) to tell the difference.

I took a mate to the Leigh v Toronto game in the Summer Bash and he said the football was great, but he would never go again.

He felt intimated (put at risk) by the ''attitude'' and behaviour of some of (a lot of) the fans.

Alcohol free, or family zones is a good idea in my opinion and I'd suggest some coaching by the clubs (of their fans) about appropriate behaviour on the terraces.

Poor behaviour adversely affects newcomer's desire to revisit. It's a fact. 

 

Perhaps not the best choice of games given the obvious ' issues ' between the clubs 🤔

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On 10/10/2021 at 19:50, 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.

 

On 10/10/2021 at 21:20, JM2010 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

 

On 10/10/2021 at 21:20, 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). 

 

On 10/10/2021 at 21:56, 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.

 

On 10/10/2021 at 23:14, 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.

We know the people we should bring in to maximise crowds for Rugby League, but will the people who run the game in this country do it?

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10 hours ago, clogdance said:

Toronto & Ottawa are in Europe, blimey. 🤪

Though we don't currently have either in the system, I agree the potential entry of NA teams does need to be treated differently to the French (ie paying for other sides to come across while in the lower tiers). 

9 hours ago, Dave T said:

It should also be pointed out that there is no E in the title of the competition. It is called the Betfred Super League. The only reference to Europe is in the trading name really. 

True, but I think it's quite reasonable to infer from that trading name and the foundation teams chosen that the league was always intended to fulfil a broader scope than England alone.

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Earlier kick off time would help. Less idiots getting smashed drinking for hours before and no mad dash for packed trams and trains home. 

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