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Friday, 18 February 2011

We can't go on together .....with suspicious minds

There is no need  for the RL community to be pessimistic even in the current financial climate. The glass is half full

The RFL can continue to plan for slow sustainable growth without getting over excited. There will be set backs but the salary cap can be a vital tool used to maintain a fine balance between traditional and new which can work in partnership towards a common goal.

There are some existing, successful SL clubs from relatively small towns who are currently thriving but will inevitably reach a limit. In a free market, a team from a town like Warrington cannot compete with a team from a city like Leeds. When the Warrington club tries to expand it inevitably encroaches on the territory of neighbouring SL teams like Wigan and St Helens who have the same problem. Other SL teams such as Crusaders or Les Catalans do not have this problem. They might not currently be as successfull but the potential is much greater.

Gate receipts and sponsorships are important but they are not the only income streams available. TV revenue and ways to increase it is becoming a bigger factor in the strategic plans made by sports administrators. Lets face it, Toulouse, London and Wales are much more attractive to an international TV audience than Batley, Featherstone and Leigh, great old clubs that they are. The RL market in Yorkshire, :Lancashire and Cumbria is probably close to saturation anyway.

Super League needs to attract more big city clubs with potential to help us grow. Harlequins are a good example and Toulouse would be ideal. Bramley, Dewsbury, Rochdale and Swinton are great old clubs with proud histories but, if we are being realistic and honest, unless things change dramatically, they will not be able to compete in SL soon. All clubs should have the opportunity to play at an appropriate level

We need to recognise that everybody in the RL community is on same side. We must forget our parochial tendencies and develop a partnership which will alllow the game as a whole to grow. In the past, too many people within the game have been  suspicious of development and viewed it as an opportunity for others to pick our collective pockets.

The status quo is not an option, we must expand or die. Otherwise, the existing and mainly elderly RL fan base will gradually grow old and die without being replaced. Obviously proper plans must be made and proper management safeguards must be in place. We cannot look for rich men willing to fritter away their fortunes then let us down.

Rugby League always thrives when it gets the opportunity to compete without hinderance from vested interests. Traditionally, the only places this has happened is in NSW, Queensland and the North of England but things are gradually changing. New technology and communication methods allow easier access to our sport and we should do everything to allow this to continue. Unfortunately the perception still exists that RL is only of interest to people who worked up t'mill or d'ahn pit. It was never true but players and fans from Wrexham and Greenwich are worth their weight in gold

We must build from bottom up and make sure we have a strong grassroots organisations in place before we try to take it further. Wales can be the template to follow

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