Talking Rugby League with League Express editor Martyn Sadler
Oscar Wilde defined a cynic as someone who “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing,” and my fear is that the Super League clubs may not fully appreciate the value of the clubs outside Super League, nor indeed of the community game.
I hope that the Super League clubs will show a little humility when it comes to negotiating with the non-Super League clubs about a possible share of the £25 million per year they have now agreed with Sky Sports over the next two years.
The last deal saw the Championship clubs get around 10 per cent of the amount the Super League clubs were receiving and I would hope they would get at least that much again.
It’s worth bearing in mind, after all, that the disastrous split from the RFL three years ago was absolutely nothing to do with the Championship and League 1 clubs. Instead it was a project of the Super League clubs themselves, who seemed to be convinced that untold riches were lying in wait for them if only they were free of the RFL.
How wrong could they be?
Not only were there no extra commercial opportunities for them to exploit, but the whole venture cost them and the game a small fortune, with no discernible benefit. Although the former Executive Chairman Robert Elstone made some cosmetic changes to the game on the field, I can see no evidence that there was any payback commercially for Super League. I couldn’t for the life of me see any strategy that was designed to enhance the value of the competition.
And given that the Super League clubs have themselves been the cause of the dramatic reduction in income that will be generated from Sky Sports, I’m not sure why the price should be paid by the non-Super League clubs.
At least the current Chairman Ken Davy, at a press briefing last week, showed some understanding of the issue.
“The view of all the Super League clubs is that we are the top of the pyramid, and it doesn’t amount to much if you take away what’s beneath it,” he said.
I hope his actions match his words.
Last week Super League revealed that there is a new factor in the Sky broadcasting deal, in that ten games could now be shown on free-to-air TV if there is a demand for them. Those games will include two play-off games.
So will any free-to-air broadcasters rise to the challenge of bidding for those matches?
It’s hard to believe that the BBC will want them, given that it already has the Challenge Cup.
But what about other broadcasters?
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new deal is how finding out how much these games are worth.
It’s disappointing to think that any Rugby League player would racially abuse a player from another team.
Andre Savelio of Hull has alleged that Tony Clubb did so, and as yet we haven’t heard Clubb’s version of events.
Until we do it may be best to reserve judgement on this unfortunate issue, other than to say that we should all support the RFL’s ‘Tackle It’ campaign to eradicate racism from our game and from society as a whole.
And I don’t know any decent person who wouldn’t support the eradication of online abuse on social media.
Whether the best approach to doing that is to boycott social media is debatable, but at least professional sporting bodies are united in trying to do something to address the issue.
If you post on social media regularly, you will sooner or later experience online abuse, to a greater or lesser degree.
What I would like to see is the social media platforms insisting that people coming onto their websites have to post using their real identity.
If they did so, I’m sure that 90 per cent of the abusive trolling would cease. Abusers are cowards, who like to hide behind pseudonyms, but most of them wouldn’t dare post under their own names.
Connor’s antics let him down
Jake Connor is one of my favourite players in Super League, but he is also one of the most frustrating.
Last Thursday he had a running battle with Zak Hardaker in the game between Wigan and Hull, with both players having the potential to represent England at fullback in this year’s World Cup tournament.
But whereas Hardaker is secure in Shaun Wane’s initial England squad, Connor is on the outer.
So on Thursday he needed to demonstrate his credentials to be called up into the England squad.
So what happened?
He was sinbinned for a high tackle on Hardaker in the first half, with Liam Farrell scoring a Wigan try while he was off the field.
And then he gave away the decisive penalty in the 66th minute, when he appeared to slap Jackson Hastings as the Wigan halfback got up to play the ball near the Hull line.
It was a kickable penalty and Hardaker kicked it to give Wigan their 16-14 victory.
No one can doubt that Connor is talented enough to be in the England squad, but his temperament constantly lets him down.
After the game he and Hardaker were engrossed in a conversation, and I would love to know what they were saying to each other.
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