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Could Leeds handle a big city rival club?


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This is the off-season so pure hypothetical banter of course.

Could Leeds handle a big city rival if someone was ambitious enough and wanted to create a rival club?

So I'm not talking a Bramley or Hunslet here which is a pocket of the city, I'm talking a group of investors creating a rival Leeds club - let's say Leeds Rangers or Leeds City or even Leeds United. If they were put in L1 they would spend the full salary cap for a couple of seasons and get promotion before moving into Elland Road as a big spending SL rival.

What would a big city rivalry do for RL and for Leeds Rhinos? Would they be fighting for the same fans and juniors or is there enough non Rhinos following Leeds people out there to get a rival up to 10k+ crowds and thus setting up a huge big city derby. 

TBH I didn't realise that Leeds was sixth richest city in the country and, at 800k, the fourth largest city. 

Edited by Scubby
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  • Scubby changed the title to Could Leeds handle a big city rival club?

Know you are asking about intra city but, with the continued absence of Bradford, Toulouse provide an ideal inter city rival for Leeds. I'm sure Mr Hetherington is already aware of this.

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9 minutes ago, Damien said:

I think the ship has probably sailed. I think Hunslet, or a team representing South Leeds, could certainly have been a goer at one time but Leeds Rhinos now have Leeds pretty much sewn up.

I'm not sure I agree - anything is possible done correctly. What I am talking about here is a big funded, big talking rival backed by a consortium and tapping into those people who do not naturally gravitate to Headingley and Leeds RL. If they cuckooed into the city and had the big resources behind them could they be a force alongside the Rhinos or would it simply dilute the Rhinos?

Leeds is bloody huge! 

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'Unslet are the Rugby League club for South Leeds.

TBH West Yorkshire is well saturated with pro Rugby League clubs and there is no demand for another one in a sports market as mature as the UK where almost everyone's partisan identity is already set. It would need someone who wants to burn several million pounds of money over a prolonged period with the aim of achieving... what?

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7 minutes ago, Scubby said:

Leeds is bloody huge! 

It is

And by way of a little historical background, from Wikipedia 

Quote

The city of Leeds had an abundance of rugby football clubs and although members of the Yorkshire RFU (which was in turn a Constituent Body of the RFU), it was decided to form a ‘more local’ association. It was for this reason that the Leeds & District organization was formalised when a meeting took place at the Green Dragon Hotel, Leeds on 27 September 1888.

The foundation clubs were 

  1. Bramley,
  2. Holbeck, 
  3. Hunslet,
  4. Kirkstall,
  5. Leeds Parish Church, 
  6. Leeds St John’s (later to become Leeds Rhinos)
  7. Wortley

Different era now, of course

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1 hour ago, Scubby said:

This is the off-season so pure hypothetical banter of course.

Could Leeds handle a big city rival if someone was ambitious enough and wanted to create a rival club?

So I'm not talking a Bramley or Hunslet here which is a pocket of the city, I'm talking a group of investors creating a rival Leeds club - let's say Leeds Rangers or Leeds City or even Leeds United. If they were put in L1 they would spend the full salary cap for a couple of seasons and get promotion before moving into Elland Road as a big spending SL rival.

What would a big city rivalry do for RL and for Leeds Rhinos? Would they be fighting for the same fans and juniors or is there enough non Rhinos following Leeds people out there to get a rival up to 10k+ crowds and thus setting up a huge big city derby. 

TBH I didn't realise that Leeds was sixth richest city in the country and, at 800k, the fourth largest city. 

Would they be allowed 10 forward passes a game like the Rhino's ?

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I think its a one club city (two footballing clubs with Leeds United and Rhinos I suppose). Those sporting institutions are pretty well established too. Unlike say Brisbane, there isn't a significant latent "RL but not Rhinos" group in the city who could be targeted.

With the loss of Bradford, this has only further cemented the Rhinos as the premier rugby club in both the city and (West) Yorkshire more generally. That's reflective of the city's role too which is drawing in its surrounding conurbation more and more. 

Leeds, or its close periphery, could probably host a couple of lower division clubs on top of the Rhinos. That the rest of West Yorkshire supports 10 more pro/semi pro clubs is very good.

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1 hour ago, Scubby said:

I'm not sure I agree - anything is possible done correctly. What I am talking about here is a big funded, big talking rival backed by a consortium and tapping into those people who do not naturally gravitate to Headingley and Leeds RL. If they cuckooed into the city and had the big resources behind them could they be a force alongside the Rhinos or would it simply dilute the Rhinos?

Leeds is bloody huge! 

Who are those people though? 

Leeds is pretty solid in that most people from the city are latent supporters of the clubs there. They might not be avid supporters/fans, but the Rhinos and LUFC are well recognised and well supported institutions in the city and indeed well beyond. 

Whilst there is a significant part of the city that isn't engaged with any of the sports clubs massively (see LUFC's concerted attempts to encourage a more non-white kids to the club or the different crowd at Headingley for the Jamaica game), I don't think that is a large enough or realistically sustainable group for a new fanbase.

I would actually like Leeds to have some more local competition, right now the quality of competition is low from all local sports clubs except LUFC.

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2 hours ago, Scubby said:

I'm not sure I agree - anything is possible done correctly. What I am talking about here is a big funded, big talking rival backed by a consortium and tapping into those people who do not naturally gravitate to Headingley and Leeds RL. If they cuckooed into the city and had the big resources behind them could they be a force alongside the Rhinos or would it simply dilute the Rhinos?

Leeds is bloody huge! 

No they could not be a force and no they would not dilute the Rhinos 

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Possibly one centred around the Parish Church?

 

Being serious, however, the driving forces behind district-based clubs have now disappeared. Anyone living in the Leeds conurbation and wanting to watch SL has no difficulty getting to Headingley to do so. Hunslet were their great rivals many years ago but the area has been pretty well depopulated compared with, say, the 30's.

Clubs like Hull and Hull KR grew out of distinctly different identities which are now simply echoed as compared with generating local loyalties.

So, no, there is no need nor really hope for the establishment of another major RL club in Leeds. Maybe Sheffield would offer potential?

Edited by Blind side johnny
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Sport, amongst other things, is a dream-world offering escape from harsh reality and the disturbing prospect of change.

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1 hour ago, Blind side johnny said:

Possibly one centred around the Parish Church?

 

Being serious, however, the driving forces behind district-based clubs have now disappeared. Anyone living in the Leeds conurbation and wanting to watch SL has no difficulty getting to Headingley to do so. Hunslet were their great rivals many years ago but the area has been pretty well depopulated compared with, say, the 30's.

Clubs like Hull and Hull KR grew out of distinctly different identities which are now simply echoed as compared with generating local loyalties.

So, no, there is no need nor really hope for the establishment of another major RL club in Leeds. Maybe Sheffield would offer potential?

The league decision to refuse Hunslet their place in Super league after winning the championship was the end of this unfortunately.

There would have been 2 teams in Leeds then and scope for developing the poster's idea.

 

 

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Any real inner city/derby rivalry should be Bradford.

Someone else recently posted about derbies and it makes perfect sense having two clubs near to one another… Leeds/Bradford, Saints/Wigan, Catalans/Toulouse and Hull/KR 

A booming Bradford would be much better than another Leeds club.

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5 hours ago, Scubby said:

I'm not sure I agree - anything is possible done correctly. What I am talking about here is a big funded, big talking rival backed by a consortium and tapping into those people who do not naturally gravitate to Headingley and Leeds RL. If they cuckooed into the city and had the big resources behind them could they be a force alongside the Rhinos or would it simply dilute the Rhinos?

Leeds is bloody huge! 

Dilute now football club is back in prem.  We are short another big city in the game though. 

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Hunslet's promotion back in 1999 would have been interesting but I don't think they would have lasted long or made a huge impact onto the city's sporting landscape.

The truth is that, since the development of a proper pan-Leeds identity in the 1950s and 1960s, the chances of regenerating a locally-named side like Hunslet into a club which would genuinely attract fans away from a team named Leeds, are slim. Leeds have now managed to spread themselves to represent the entire city. People who are Rugby League fans from Leeds are now almost all Leeds fans; people who identify as being from Hunslet probably also identify as being Loiners. You are left with a rump of legacy Hunslet fans and their families, but regrettably they are somewhat rare.

As for introducing a new team, named Leeds Bears or Leeds United or something.... it comes back to what's the point and who is the market?

Edited by M j M
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I remember chatting a while back to some Leeds United fans at work and queried if they have ever thought about the idea of Leeds Rhinos and going but for them due to location they said if Hunslet were a bigger club they might give it a go but they class Rhinos as "non Leeds" and don't like the MOT being nicked and used at Rhino's games. Leeds as as city is such a big area in terms of towns you have Tadcaster to Ilkley across wise and everything in between including the likes of Guiseley, Pudsey and Otley under the LS postcode. It should be able to support multiple sports clubs which it does however I am not sure where additional fans are coming from

 

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4 hours ago, Blind side johnny said:

Possibly one centred around the Parish Church?

 

Being serious, however, the driving forces behind district-based clubs have now disappeared. Anyone living in the Leeds conurbation and wanting to watch SL has no difficulty getting to Headingley to do so. Hunslet were their great rivals many years ago but the area has been pretty well depopulated compared with, say, the 30's.

Clubs like Hull and Hull KR grew out of distinctly different identities which are now simply echoed as compared with generating local loyalties.

So, no, there is no need nor really hope for the establishment of another major RL club in Leeds. Maybe Sheffield would offer potential?

Or Manchester maybe?

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48 minutes ago, BridBeachRL said:

I remember chatting a while back to some Leeds United fans at work and queried if they have ever thought about the idea of Leeds Rhinos and going but for them due to location they said if Hunslet were a bigger club they might give it a go but they class Rhinos as "non Leeds" and don't like the MOT being nicked and used at Rhino's games. Leeds as as city is such a big area in terms of towns you have Tadcaster to Ilkley across wise and everything in between including the likes of Guiseley, Pudsey and Otley under the LS postcode. It should be able to support multiple sports clubs which it does however I am not sure where additional fans are coming from

 

As someone from Manchester(not the city of Manchester but the urban area)I think Leeds is better off with just one big club.Yes it covers a big area and that is I think very much to it’s advantage.

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8 hours ago, Scubby said:

This is the off-season so pure hypothetical banter of course.

Could Leeds handle a big city rival if someone was ambitious enough and wanted to create a rival club?

So I'm not talking a Bramley or Hunslet here which is a pocket of the city, I'm talking a group of investors creating a rival Leeds club - let's say Leeds Rangers or Leeds City or even Leeds United. If they were put in L1 they would spend the full salary cap for a couple of seasons and get promotion before moving into Elland Road as a big spending SL rival.

What would a big city rivalry do for RL and for Leeds Rhinos? Would they be fighting for the same fans and juniors or is there enough non Rhinos following Leeds people out there to get a rival up to 10k+ crowds and thus setting up a huge big city derby. 

TBH I didn't realise that Leeds was sixth richest city in the country and, at 800k, the fourth largest city. 

No, theyvwould squeeze them out like all their other rivals. This is the reason they do not have a local derby

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33 minutes ago, yipyee said:

No, theyvwould squeeze them out like all their other rivals. This is the reason they do not have a local derby

I know you haven't a clue about Rugby League in the UK, let alone West Yorkshire, but Cas remains Leeds' premier local derby, as it has been with some brief interruptions for all of my lifetime.

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This idea appears to be very much in the mould of "Brisbane II" in the NRL.

I'd say the fundamental difference would be that the are a large number of places around Leeds that would never identify with being Leeds desire their economical ties to it.

I can see the reasons for the idea and have considered this myself in the past. Big clubs in any sport are more likely to succeed in high population densities in large cities. If that city is large enough, it supporting 2 clubs often don't affect the other to the extent of the 2nd club being smaller than a club in a smaller population density.

To clarify what I mean, Leeds is huge. There's no way everyone in Leeds supports the Rhinos. Rugby league is just not big enough a sport to have an appeal that broad to make a great many people travel that far IMO (some will and obviously do). This is why to me the notion of clubs representing huge areas alone (i.e. London) doesn't really work in practice. There are parts of Leeds where there is little to no interest in rugby league, and the Rhinos just won't resonate much with them as they're miles away. A club in closer proximity may have more of a connection. I've no doubt with the right investment, you could easily create a club representing a different area of Leeds that could rival the size of Wakefield, Castleford and Huddersfield. I think had Hunslet repackaged as "Leeds Hawks" at the advent of SL, their potential for investors would have been greatly increased and could have even seen them in SL at the end of the 90s with a redeveloped/expanded South Leeds Stadium - as Hunslet, there were just too many reasons to deny them opportunity to go up. They chose to remain a community club, which is their prerogative.

Local rivalries also drum up more interest (both within those areas and with neutrals) as long as those areas are of similar stature. Leeds are just so much bigger than all of their rivals and an inter-city rivalry would have been beneficial to drumming up interest across the city rather than diluting it. Bradford are the only ones who came close. I think Bradford is a big enough area to be considered a better target for growth ultimately than a second Leeds team though as, despite my point about RL not having a wide enough appeal for many people to travel distances, the aim would be to grow that in the future, so you would be diluting future growth potential within Leeds for no reason as there's already a ready-made opportunity next door! If we accept the appeal of RL to being what it is today forevermore, then a second Leeds side would be a good shout, and I'd still say Hunslet rebranding would be the best chance of quick success (much like I think Swinton not rebranding as Manchester Lions is a missed opportunity).

Sorry for the long post! I think it's an interesting idea that doesn't deserve immediately shooting down.

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