125 YEARS AND STILL NO KNIGHTHOOD
August 29th, 1995, more than one hundred and twenty-five years ago, our great game was born.
We broke our shackles that day and established the greatest game of all, Rugby League Football, yet we are still waiting for a Rugby League Knight of the Realm.
Not for lack of worthy candidates. There are plenty to choose from.
Other sports have loads of Knights; only Rugby League, darts, snooker, ten-pin bowling and crown-green bowls have none.
Three times I have written to Buckingham Palace to plead our case. In 2015 I wrote, in 2017, and in February this year I wrote again. I got a reply in 2015. On the last two occasions – nothing.
Six living legends of Rugby League I have pot forward: Billy Boston MBE, Neil Fox MBE, Johnny Whiteley MBE, Alex Murphy OBE, David Oxley CBE and Maurice Lindsay. I am sure that any one of these deserves a knighthood for services to our great game. It is time Ralph Rimmer and Robert Elstone pushed this forward.
Billy Cunliffe, Wigan
SUPER LEAGUE’S BAD DEAL
Should the news that Super League has done a sponsorship deal with Papa John’s Pizza, for £0,000.00 plus free pizzas to the clubs worry us, or is it another, ‘Rugby League fans are always moaning’, non-story?
I am alarmed.
Of course, any seasoned sales professional has a few deals best forgotten. A coach will tell you that players learn more from losing than from winning and the same is true for sales professionals. Duff deals do accelerate your learning.
Should we not be too hard then on Rhodri Jones, Chief Commercial Officer at Super League and his boss, Robert Elstone, who presumably signed off on this deal. A common problem in sales is the fear of asking too high, worried that if they pitch too high and lose the deal their credibility will be damaged.
In practice, that almost never happens. The wrong behaviour is so prevalent that Harvard Business School ran tests which showed that salespeople often play safe by asking too low a price.
There are ways to combat it, the bluntest being always to quote a figure you believe unattainable. It is an uncomfortable thing to do at times but, as an antidote, it is super effective.
We can reasonably assume that Rhodri did not ask high. If he had started the negotiation at, say £300.000.00 (plus the pizzas), he could not have given that much ground without losing all credibility. So, to accept and put forward to his boss a deal at £0.00 (plus pizzas) he cannot have asked for much money in the first place.
Result? The advertiser cannot even have covered the cost of Rhodri’s time doing the deal, so in effect, Super League will be paying towards the cost of the ‘free’ pizzas delivered to their clubs.
You might say, so what? It’s a minor deal. Okay, fair enough, it is not as bad as the Stobart deal. But I am alarmed because you need your salespeople always to ask high. If you ask high, you might get. If you ask low, you are certain not to get much.
Sensible Rugby League fans now know that two of the people negotiating a new TV contract with Sky, sometimes (and possibly always) set themselves conservative targets.
There is other evidence to back this.
Plenty of coverage in the press over the last two years has pointed to a reduced future TV pay-out for Super League clubs, and those in lower leagues. Am I the only one who thinks the management team at Sky also read this stuff?
Surely, if Elstone was going for an ambitious deal, he would have been be leaking stories about clubs expecting to treble their TV revenue.
That is not as implausible an idea as it may seem. TV advertising revenue may be dropping, but there are tens of thousands of Rugby League fans paying £50 to £80 a month to Sky, when you can get Netflix for less than a tenner.
Sky TV’s management team will not want its high-value subscribers being lost to low-cost providers. The minute Sky drops Rugby League, I shall drop my Sky deal in its entirety. Sky no longer has a monopoly on football but to date it does on Rugby League.
My worry is that the people negotiating on behalf of Rugby League have already lost, defeated before they set foot in the Sky Sports offices. If I were CEO of Super League, I would have rejected the Papa John’s deal. There are no mitigating circumstances that justify it. None!
Robert Elstone should demand better deals from his team. A salesperson who lets the product go cheaply is in the wrong job.
Compare and contrast this with Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of the Rugby League World Cup. Jon has already demonstrated ambition by getting the World Cup draw conducted by Prince Harry, in Buckingham Palace. He is already able to say publicly that the first game, England v Samoa at Newcastle will be a full house. Such actions engender confidence in the wider Rugby League audience.
This pizza deal has been, for me, the jaw-dropping moment. No exaggeration! I fear for the future of the game, given that so much is riding on negotiations with Sky.
Stuart Glendinning, Northwich
I am a massive fan of Tommy Makinson.
He is the best winger in Super League by a country mile and one of the best in both hemispheres. But to have his foul play charge reduced on his past record is a joke. It’s like giving a lesser sentence to a person who shoots someone else, just because they have never done that before.
The evidence was there for everybody to see during the match.
If Liam Watts had grabbed Makinson in the same way he would have been given a straight eight-match ban, as would any player from the likes of Hull KR, Salford, Huddersfield, Hull, Castleford, Catalans and Wakefield.
The same thing happened about four seasons ago when Sean O’Loughlin committed one of the worst high tackles I have seen against Wakefield. He too received no penalty afterwards due to his past record.
The disciplinary panel members are not fit to do their job. They bottled it.
No ‘One rule for the haves’ and another for the rest, please. Punishment should be based on the offence, not on who you are and your past record.
N Wilders, Knottingley
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