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Why Expansion has failed


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2 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

Sad isn't it

Just cant believe with all that money we have so little infrastructure that we paid for to show for it. Oldham, Dale, Swinton, Cas, Wakey, don´t even mention Bulls. Good job we were handing out half a million quid for playoff spots in the champ though... madness. 

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5 hours ago, Oxford said:

 

If I go down to the area this year I'll attend and buy some merchandise as well.

 

Great stuff! Look forward to seeing you there. And afterwards you can go five minutes down the road and spend the rest of the day on the beach!

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Interesting thread so far, which concentrates mostly on expansion efforts post 1996 in the summer era.

Going right back to 1895, rugby league really missed a trick when a band of clubs broke away from the RFU to form a Northern Union. The name itself must have discouraged working class clubs in every other part of Britain (South Wales, North East, West country, Midlands) from joining the new union.

Rugby at that stage was ahead of soccer in many ways, despite a new Football League starting up in 1888. After the rugby schism, the coast was clear for soccer to emerge as the dominant code and put both union and league into the shade.

How differently could things have played out if those early NU leaders had had the nous to reach out and attract a much wider geographical spread of clubs, nurturing them and seeing the sport grow to the point where RL would have dominated the oval ball scene? Perhaps the Rugby League could have offered much more of a fight to soccer for the hearts and minds of the British sporting public in the period leading up to WW1?

After that date, the die was cast.

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33 minutes ago, EggFace said:

I always thought perfect opportunity for the RFL offer the Rugby Union clubs in Limbo like the Scottish Borders Hawick, Melrose , South Wales like Neath, Pontypool etc and South West with Penzance and Plymouth.

Really surprised that Hartlepool area never went to League.

Union got in first in Hartlepool. Loads of Welsh guys built the docks there - and brought 'their rugby' with them.

There are now - finally - a couple of amateur rugby league clubs in Hartlepool, to outsiders surely one of the least likely places in England to embrace a 'posh sport' like rugby union.

Union in the Borders is not unlike league along the M62: lots of small clubs (all, in fact, quite a bit smaller than the M62's league clubs), many poorly supported, dogged by petty-mindedness and narrowness of vision, all chasing the same tiny pool of players, spectators and sponsors. The Scottish Borders RU franchise failed primarily because it was based at Galashiels - and virtually everybody in the Borders seems to dislike 'Dirty Gala'.

For me, Carlisle is the most depressing rugby league 'expansion' failure: by the mid-80s, the city's semi-pro club, bolstered by talent from neighbouring west Cumbria, had the benefit of a two-division Carlisle & District Amateur Rugby League competition beneath it. And, still, it all went belly up.

Edited by Hopping Mad
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15 minutes ago, marklaspalmas said:

Interesting thread so far, which concentrates mostly on expansion efforts post 1996 in the summer era.

Going right back to 1895, rugby league really missed a trick when a band of clubs broke away from the RFU to form a Northern Union. The name itself must have discouraged working class clubs in every other part of Britain (South Wales, North East, West country, Midlands) from joining the new union.

Rugby at that stage was ahead of soccer in many ways, despite a new Football League starting up in 1888. After the rugby schism, the coast was clear for soccer to emerge as the dominant code and put both union and league into the shade.

How differently could things have played out if those early NU leaders had had the nous to reach out and attract a much wider geographical spread of clubs, nurturing them and seeing the sport grow to the point where RL would have dominated the oval ball scene? Perhaps the Rugby League could have offered much more of a fight to soccer for the hearts and minds of the British sporting public in the period leading up to WW1?

After that date, the die was cast.

Maybe the die was cast when the Northern Union's first champions realised soccer was a better bet.

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1 minute ago, Hopping Mad said:

Maybe the die was cast when the Northern Union's first champions realised soccer was a better bet.

Of the 11 founder members of the Football Association, 10 no longer exist or play a sport other than soccer.

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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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2 hours ago, Big Picture said:

The trouble is that the heartlands area is too small and too economically disadvantaged now to provide the sort of money needed to sustain the pro game and compete with soccer and RU, so expansion is required if pro RL in Britain is going to survive and that's the way it is.

Expansion is also needed to reverse the decline in the player pool, because having the pro game concentrated in smallish, unfashionable towns is evidently not appealing enough to the sons and grandsons of the RL players and followers of yesteryear to maintain the player pool. 

You say expansion is needed. Expansion requires a very big investment, the last one being $30,000,000 at Toronto Wolfpack. In the final analysis there was no return on the $30,000,000 spent on the far away outpost. 

If anyone mega rich wants to put money in then it needs to go in where there would be a return. Ideally we want rich business people to be picking up existing clubs especially the likes of Widnes and Bradford Bulls........

This would give the best chance of a significant real life boost to the game, it would get more people playing in Bradford and Widnes again at junior and then academy level, and get back the sort of players they used to develop  and get a return of the crowds they had in years gone by.

Expansion is needed where there can be a real life return. That's along the M62.

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12 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

Of the 11 founder members of the Football Association, 10 no longer exist or play a sport other than soccer.

11 of 12 founders of the Football League (which is arguably a closer relative comparison) still play soccer however. 1 that doesn't ceased to exist in 1896. 

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8 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

11 of 12 founders of the Football League (which is arguably a closer relative comparison) still play soccer however. 1 that doesn't ceased to exist in 1896. 

Yes. Soccer has a much stronger tradition of looking after member clubs, whatever the level they operate at.

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7 minutes ago, steve oates said:

You say expansion is needed. Expansion requires a very big investment, the last one being $30,000,000 at Toronto Wolfpack. In the final analysis there was no return on the $30,000,000 spent on the far away outpost. 

If anyone mega rich wants to put money in then it needs to go in where there would be a return. Ideally we want rich business people to be picking up existing clubs especially the likes of Widnes and Bradford Bulls........

This would give the best chance of a significant real life boost to the game, it would get more people playing in Bradford and Widnes again at junior and then academy level, and get back the sort of players they used to develop  and get a return of the crowds they had in years gone by.

Expansion is needed where there can be a real life return. That's along the M62.

Sorry, but if you think that anyone would ever invest 30,000,000$ in RL along the M62 you're deluded.  They won't for the simple reason that they'd never generate the revenues needed to make a decent return on that investment in those smallish, economically disadvantaged towns.  Note the Koukasah's investment in Salford didn't produce anywhere close to the crowds which Argyle's investment in Toronto did and he lost plenty from his involvement too.

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11 minutes ago, steve oates said:

You say expansion is needed. Expansion requires a very big investment, the last one being $30,000,000 at Toronto Wolfpack. In the final analysis there was no return on the $30,000,000 spent on the far away outpost. 

If anyone mega rich wants to put money in then it needs to go in where there would be a return. Ideally we want rich business people to be picking up existing clubs especially the likes of Widnes and Bradford Bulls........

This would give the best chance of a significant real life boost to the game, it would get more people playing in Bradford and Widnes again at junior and then academy level, and get back the sort of players they used to develop  and get a return of the crowds they had in years gone by.

Expansion is needed where there can be a real life return. That's along the M62.

How much? 🤔

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7 minutes ago, Big Picture said:

Sorry, but if you think that anyone would ever invest 30,000,000$ in RL along the M62 you're deluded.  

I don't think that at all, you appear to have made that up. It's a simple truth that if we could find someone rich enough to pop a million or two a year into Bradford and Widnes this would greatly strengthen Superleague. These are places where they have a culture of Rugby league, watching and playing it going back well over 100 years.....

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27 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

11 of 12 founders of the Football League (which is arguably a closer relative comparison) still play soccer however. 1 that doesn't ceased to exist in 1896. 

Yes, but that’s not as witty and I value that above all things.

Plus I find the FA’s foundation to be quite funny in its way.

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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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14 minutes ago, marklaspalmas said:

How much? 🤔

Ideally enough to be able to pay full salary cap and attract some quality players to provide the best chance of staying up.

But also a stay of execution for two years, which I would give Featherstone if their owner plans to invest further when in Superleague.   Does he??

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17 hours ago, Tommygilf said:

 

Unfortunately the game hasn't despite millions of investment coming in over the past decade, been able to improve or build towards that possibility.

17 hours ago, Damien said:

I completely agree and have said the same many times before.

Yes the RFL may not have much money but the sport has squandered 100s of millions over the last 25 years with little to show for it. 

1 hour ago, ShropshireBull said:

Shows you how much money was spaffed away . 

23 minutes ago, ShropshireBull said:

Just cant believe with all that money we have so little infrastructure that we paid for to show for it.

I do think we need to be careful not to rewrite history and make out that RL has been cash-rich over the last 25 years and blown it. The amounts we are talking about are very modest to run a professional sport and I wouldn't describe the money spent as being wasted. 

As we've seen with the likes of Bradford Bulls, money is really tight and it doesn't take much for us to go to the wall.  I do agree that there is a case for a ringfencing of funds that could have been invested in infrastructure, but I think that number would in reality be so modest that it certainly wouldn't have been able to grow the network of asset-rich clubs.

We may have had TV deals worth hundreds of millions of quid over the last 25 years - but it has cost probably 6 or 7 times more than that to run the game during that time.

Probably the biggest failing of the game has been the inability to attract additional investment in things like this - and tbh the RFL at the moment do appear to be trying to focus on some of these things, with the work at the Man City campus and the World Cup legacy piece. 

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Always glad to see the Got to Concentrate on the Heartlands theory turn up. Yet isn't that what has happened for the last 127 years? Never mind just a few more years and that policy will be a raging success 

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24 minutes ago, Big Picture said:

Sorry, but if you think that anyone would ever invest 30,000,000$ in RL along the M62 you're deluded.  They won't for the simple reason that they'd never generate the revenues needed to make a decent return on that investment in those smallish, economically disadvantaged towns.  Note the Koukasah's investment in Salford didn't produce anywhere close to the crowds which Argyle's investment in Toronto did and he lost plenty from his involvement too.

You are completely ignoring the reality of sports investment. Also, many, many millions have been pumped into RL clubs in the North of England by backers, way in excess of the £18m (real money) even if that was the actual number.

Millions of quid are invested in sports and never seen again, so RL is hardly unique in being seen as a bad investment for a millionaire, it isn;t that fact that stops more people from investing.

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2 minutes ago, Jeff Stein said:

Always glad to see the Got to Concentrate on the Heartlands theory turn up. Yet isn't that what has happened for the last 127 years? Never mind just a few more years and that policy will be a raging success 

RL is a wonderful sport with a lot of great clubs doing a lot of good stuff in their communities. Why isn't that seen as a success?

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4 minutes ago, Dave T said:

RL is a wonderful sport with a lot of great clubs doing a lot of good stuff in their communities. Why isn't that seen as a success?

I don't know. I'm not the one suggesting that the sport should just support what it's got. To turn it around if it's so wonderful why do some appear to think that it is impossible for people outside its heartlands to want to participate in and enjoy it?

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36 minutes ago, steve oates said:

I don't think that at all, you appear to have made that up. It's a simple truth that if we could find someone rich enough to pop a million or two a year into Bradford and Widnes this would greatly strengthen Superleague. These are places where they have a culture of Rugby league, watching and playing it going back well over 100 years.....

Why should an investor(s) need to pump in a million or two every year?  That is in fact a sign of the sport not being viable as a pro game, because pro leagues are generally self-sustaining because they generate enough revenue to cover their costs and more.

Your acceptance that Bradford and Widnes would need annual cash infusions is in fact an acceptance that the M62 area can't sustain major pro sport and the game needs a solution to that problem.

27 minutes ago, Dave T said:

You are completely ignoring the reality of sports investment. Also, many, many millions have been pumped into RL clubs in the North of England by backers, way in excess of the £18m (real money) even if that was the actual number.

Millions of quid are invested in sports and never seen again, so RL is hardly unique in being seen as a bad investment for a millionaire, it isn;t that fact that stops more people from investing.

I'm not ignoring the reality of sports investment at all.  The rich backers of major pro sports franchises are in it to make money, whether that be an annual profit on its operation, a rise in its value over time, or both.  The less rich backers of British RL clubs might have resigned themselves to never seeing a return on their money, but that just implies that once they reach the limit of acceptable losses they'll bail out and someone else will be needed to take on the same problem.

Re that figure of 18 million £, where is that from and which club(s) received that money?  Re your assertion that "Millions of quid are invested in sports and never seen again", which investors lost those millions and on which clubs?

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32 minutes ago, Dave T said:

RL is a wonderful sport with a lot of great clubs doing a lot of good stuff in their communities. Why isn't that seen as a success?

I am not sure everything in the heartlands is hail and hearty but certainly there are a lot of successes in all leagues, but the issue remains whether realistically the sport is limited to those towns and the occasional city and the rest of the country isn't really going to have any RL to speak of. Clubs neat the heartlands (Cu, and Midlands, for example) may have a fighting chance of survival and progression but outside of that its not going to happen for all the reasons discussed here - unless someone has a lot of money.

For me living in London that's sad because it effectively means my engagement with the sport looks like its going to be very occasional rather than a week-in-week out affair with my family and friends and that at one point included away games up the road in Hemel and nearby in Oxford and Glos. (I am obviously hoping Skolars can turn things round but am not confident). 

Does this matter more generally? I think so, because for all the good stuff going on, many heartland clubs have shaky foundations and a successful sport needs a broad base (not least to get national media coverage) and to feel dynamic. 

Perhaps rather than the scatter gun approach to expansion that seems to have been taken, there should have been a more measured approach supporting one team in London, the SW and somewhere else initially.

 

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31 minutes ago, Jeff Stein said:

I don't know. I'm not the one suggesting that the sport should just support what it's got. To turn it around if it's so wonderful why do some appear to think that it is impossible for people outside its heartlands to want to participate in and enjoy it?

Maybe they just don't get it , obviously we do, reminds me a bit like Crown Green Bowls in that sense not enough people play that these days and they don't get that either unless they give it a go then they seem to love it.

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18 minutes ago, Big Picture said:

 

I'm not ignoring the reality of sports investment at all.  The rich backers of major pro sports franchises are in it to make money, whether that be an annual profit on its operation, a rise in its value over time, or both.  The less rich backers of British RL clubs might have resigned themselves to never seeing a return on their money, but that just implies that once they reach the limit of acceptable losses they'll bail out and someone else will be needed to take on the same problem.

Re that figure of 18 million £, where is that from and which club(s) received that money?  Re your assertion that "Millions of quid are invested in sports and never seen again", which investors lost those millions and on which clubs?

The £18m is the exchange from the $30m Canadian dollars into real money.

Have you ever looked at RU and the huge losses being covered by rich backers?

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