Fewer teams in the top flight is the way forward for rugby league sustainability (From St Helens Star)
Send us news by text, start your message Star News and your send photos and videos to 80360
Fewer teams in the top flight is the way forward for rugby league sustainability
IT’S sad to hear of clubs in trouble.
Last season many of the headlines were dominated by the Bradford Bulls situation.
The dark cloud of financial pressures in the game still looms over the head of Super League, and as a player and a fan of the game it disappoints me to see the game’s headlines and national paper content to be consumed by the finances of clubs and speculation about their futures.
Historically sports clubs don't make huge sums of money and more lose money than run a viable business.
Sports clubs rely upon the vision and investment of people with the finances to absorb the potential cash flow issues that arise throughout the course of a year.
At St Helens we have been guided through this period by a very generous board of directors headed up by Eamonn McManus.
As a club we have a business now that is generating revenue 365 days a year rather than one day a week for eight months and as a club we look to be in an enviable long term position.
Bradford got into trouble because they didn't have a wealthy benefactor to ease the cash flow predicament they got themselves into.
My question is this: Do we have the financial resources to uphold 14 Super League clubs and for a majority of them to be sustainable business?
I think the answer at the moment has to be no.
The news of clubs going into administration does unmeasurable damage to the perceived value of the game to national companies looking into sponsorship, especially when it’s the only news we manage to get out into the national press.
I think for the game to become sustainable we need to concentrate our efforts into fewer teams in the top flight, a more thorough franchise process and a very strong semi professional competition beneath Super League - introducing expansion franchises at this level.
An intense competition full of clubs thriving is much more valuable to be associated with rather than a league that is over stretched in terms of players and finances.
Alongside this, the game has to perform better commercially than it does at the moment. I feel sometimes we apologise for what we have and also undervalue our game.
We have the second most watched domestic team sport on SKY, our games outperform rugby union and cricket domestically.
Whether or not the game has a national reach, the figures show that rugby league does one thing and attracts a large and loyal following on TV.
This is valuable to SKY TV and is valuable to people looking to get involved commercially with rugby league.
Forget looking at our northern roots as a negative, embrace the origins of the game, tell the story of the past but move on to a prosperous future.
The game will not exist without money and it’s the single most important resource. We need to understand how to attract more of it into the game.
I also believe that the game has to be about more than making money and be beyond a capitalist approach to the sport.
The game IS about more than money; it’s about people, community and believing in something.
I wouldn't want the character of the game to be absorbed by the same mob that took seats at Olympic Park but didn't attend!
I don’t have all the answers and we have a lot of people who do a fantastic job ensuring the game survives throughout the sport but these are just some of my thoughts.
I have been lucky enough to get away for a week’s holiday for the first time since 1999 when I was a young guy.
I loved the chance to fully unwind, switch off my phone and relax.
I am the world’s worst sunbather and I have the scars to prove it. I fell asleep in the sun following a drink or two a while ago, leaving two sunburnt handprints on my chest.
Unfortunately, these have scarred and this holiday made me realise every time I sit in the sun the hand prints return. It’s a timely reminder to be sensible in the sun.
Paul Wellens, on the other hand, is the best sunbather I have ever seen. His top is off literally in Manchester Airport in preparation of the potential sunshine of warmer climes. He may as well take a little plastic bag with tanning oil and a pair of Speedos in.
It seems though, wherever you go you see someone from the rugby league world.
Three minutes into my holiday referee Robert Hicks walked past. I bumped into Paul Deacon on day two and I am pretty sure that on a road trip in a hire car I passed Shaun Magennis running down the Lanzarote equivalent of a motorway.
It always makes me laugh!!
The funniest was walking up to the Statue of Liberty and clicking the shutter on my camera to notice five Saints shirts walking towards me in the background. Rugby league goes global in small pockets of intensity.