They’ve been shrouded in secrecy and deafening in their silence.
While other clubs have been busy and public heading into 2021, London Broncos have been glaringly quiet over the last few months.
The only club yet to make a signing and whispers of a potential move to part-time status have left many asking concerned questions about the Broncos and their future.
In reality, the club has had many difficult decisions to make.
In the space of 12 months, London have gone from receiving £1.8m in central funding to just £300,000 next season. Relegation from the top flight saw them receive a £500,000 parachute payment this year but with that now gone, London’s distribution is a sixth of what it was when they were in Super League.
That, inevitably, has resulted in the club having tough conversations and left to consider many facets of their business.
But after great deliberation, long-serving owner David Hughes has opted to keep the Broncos squad full-time next season as they plot their attack on the Championship, and a potential return to Super League.
“I wasn’t the best at maths in school but I could work out that drop in distribution didn’t look great,” admitted head coach Danny Ward, who is now in the planning process ahead of a pre-season return next month.
“If you asked me to put a fiver in I’d be kicking and screaming so fair play to David for all the money he’s put in over the years and continues to put in. He’s Mr London Broncos so fair play to him.
“Looking at the bigger picture of the world and the financial markets beyond Rugby League you can see why it needed to be a considered decision.
“It took time and it has been a frustrating time. But we’re all healthy and being paid on time so there are a lot of people worse off than us.”
Ward accepts that he is now behind many of the other clubs in building his squad for next season, though that isn’t something that concerns him.
“Other clubs have been making signing after signing while we’ve not been making much noise. I can imagine questions have been getting asked.
“Currently I’m trying to re-sign the lads out of contract. The priority is promoting lads from reserves and Academy grade this week, we like being a group of homegrown lads.
“Once we’ve done that it will take us up to 75% of our squad being Academy grown which is something we’re pretty proud of.
“Then we’ll look back and see where we need to strengthen. It’s been a slow process but we’re not panicking, lads will be falling out of Super League systems, clubs will be shaking up their squad and making changes and we’ll see what’s about. I don’t like to rush or panic, players will become available and we’ll be in a good position to recruit them as others have recruited early.
“We won’t be panic buying like it’s Christmas Eve. Not being full-time means there isn’t as much financial strain on other clubs and with the furlough system they’ve been in a decent position.”
After a summer of uncertainty, Ward is now desperate to return to the training field.
“I’ve forgotten what to do so I’ll have to test the kids out and beast them!
“We’ve been chatting with the staff the last few weeks for some ideas with pre-season. It gets you fired up and the Mrs will be glad to see the back of me. It falls in line with when we’d normally come back so it works out perfect, pre-season will be a bit longer, the season will may be put back a month so it will be a bit longer, which is another reason we’re not quite panicking about signings.