Central funding cuts

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  • #1891
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    The guardian tags this story as rugby Union, then spend all the talk about rugby League, mentioning Widnes Vikings

    DI Keith Fowler
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    The private equity firm that are reportedly close to agreeing an arrangement with Super League is CVC who are also investing in Premiership Rugby Union and are rumoured to be pushing for these cuts. It certainly doesn’t bode well for us or any of the Championship clubs in terms of funding, especially when the rumour is currently Sky will offer a diminished deal this time round and the Super League clubs will not entertain any drop in their central funding. It will almost certainly be the Championship that suffers.

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    I’m not sure Widnes are that reliant on the central funding anyway


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    This does my head in. Why, every time the deal comes up, do the lower leagues, like us, sit with, begging bowl out, waiting to see what scraps the boys on the big table will throw us when they’ve finished stuffing their faces?

    As soon as Super League was set up the clubs organised and got themselves a company (SLE) whose SOLE objective was to get for the clubs the best deal they could possibly get and galaxy anyone else.

    I’m not even sure now who is running the negotiations, them or the RL.

    The lower divisions, as far as I can see, have sat there all the way through saying “we better not upset them or they might not give us so much  next time”.

    SLE have already said that, if the deal is worse than the last one, every penny that it falls short will be taken from the allocation to the lower clubs, until it reaches zero,  before it affects SL clubs. But that deal includes rights to televise our matches.

    Now you can argue whether or not a big TV company would show our games if they were offered them but, more than that, it prevents us doing anything with our own games. Think how many more people would be willing to fork pit for Widnes TV if it had rights to stream live.

    And, if the deal is as poor as the rumours are suggesting, we are giving all that away for nothing! The yanks went to war over stuff like this and look where they are now.

    I know it’s a not a club that anyone wants to be in, the second (third, fourth) tier of a sport, but if we won’t organise and fight, if we just roll over and take it, we deserve everything we won’t get.

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    • North Stander
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    I’m not sure other chairmen are necessarily sitting back being quiet now I’m sure when the last figures where discussed didn’t 4 I’d the chairmen host a press conference saying they where going to fight against it or something along those lines

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    The link doesn’t seem to work for me, so apologies if I miss the point of the article!

    thing is though, I believe that the only way for this sport to grow is for the funding of SL and Championship to be separated, and by this the tv rights to be separated too. It seems ludicrous to me that with separate bodies overseeing both competitions in SLE and RFL that the tv rights are all packaged up together. Sky don’t care for the Championship but get the rights in a bundle.

    For me tv rights should be slit into several packages – SL games,  lower leagues, Challenge Cup and finally playoff games. This would give Sky the opportunity to bid for SL and Playoff games from all leagues, but then leave the CC and other league matches to be picked up by other broadcasters. The televising of other league games would them help with club sponsorship etc as they would get more coverage, perhaps a Championship highlights show even!

    until something like this happens, we will continue to see SL and SLE sucking whatever cash they can from the sport.

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    Apparently, there have been discussions about changing the format of the Lower Leagues, with a potentially shortened season.

    Personally not sure what that would achieve, as more games would mean more revenue? Unless they think a Champ of 10, with us, Leigh, Fev, Bradford et al would sell a reasonable TV deal?

    Rafe Wrench
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    Apparently, there have been discussions about changing the format of the Lower Leagues, with a potentially shortened season.

    Personally not sure what that would achieve, as more games would mean more revenue? Unless they think a Champ of 10, with us, Leigh, Fev, Bradford et al would sell a reasonable TV deal?

    I can’t help thinking that if there was money in it, somebody would already be doing it. What are the aggregate weekly gates outside the top flight? 10,000? Maybe something on a stick with minimal running costs but outside of the BBC who would risk their money providing this service?

    I’m still betting on the next SL deal being so bad there’ll be no more that 4 or 5 clubs able to continue full time, which won’t be a viable comp and may herald the return to semi-pro status for the whole game.

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    The article in the League Express basically said that there are options for expanding and reducing the size of the league, but a growing number of clubs want to see a shortened season….

    So atm, we play 27 League matches…..

    18 or 19 in a 10 team league is too few….

    In the old NFP we played 28 on a system where you played some twice, some once: is that the sort of system they are looking for, with say 24 fixtures?



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    The link didn’t work for me, Please see below

    The RFU’s decision to slash funding for teams in the Championship – the second tier of English rugby union – will have sent shudders through rugby league clubs below the Super League. Central funding for the 12 clubs in the Championship will be slashed by nearly 50% from next season, down from £530,000 to £288,000 per club, with no guarantees beyond that. The 14 clubs in the second tier of rugby league – also called the Championship – also rely upon central funding and they too have nothing nothing set in stone after next year.

    There are considerable similarities between the two leagues. Their members range from established top-flight clubs who do not want to be there (Newcastle Falcons in union and Widnes Vikings in league) to minnows who are punching way above their weight, some of whom are thrilled to be at that level (such as Ampthill in union; and Oldham, Swinton Lions and Whitehaven in league) and others who dream of going a step higher (Ealing Trailfinders in union; Toulouse Olympique and Featherstone Rovers in league). The aspirational are full-time; the satisfied are part-time; and some are a hybrid.

    Most rugby league clubs in the second division contribute hugely to the sport, providing men’s, women’s and youth teams, as well as various community projects. Other clubs have little but a first team that is watched by three-figure crowds, seemingly making a negligible contribution to the sport. However, even those clubs provide players with pathways to the top.

    Two years ago, Matt Ashton was playing for Rochdale Mayfield, an amateur club with deep roots in the town. Ashton moved to Swinton last year and tore up the Championship with a try-a-game season that earned him a transfer to Warrington, one of the sport’s richest clubs. His upward curve has continued with a couple of splendid games in the top flight already.

    The RFL recently introduced a “return on investment” element to central funding, whereby the more clubs bring to the sport, the more money they are given back. Championship clubs with small gates, no junior, female or physical disability teams, and little community presence, are in danger of being left behind.

    However, the Championship is a breeding ground for not only players, but for coaches, managers, physios and referees. The league gives them the chance to test themselves in environments that range from low-key to high-octane, from a few hundred spectators watching Oldham at Stalybridge to thousands of fans urging on Toulouse Olympique at Stade Ernest-Wallon. The Championship offers variety of experience, intensity and opportunity.

    Second-tier rugby league clubs have at least been promised one promotion place, even if the Super League expands to 14 clubs in 2022. The RFU’s decision to cut funding for second-tier union clubs merely cements what is already in place: a 13-team elite consisting of the 12 clubs in the Premiership and whoever has just been relegated. For years the relegated team has retained their equal share of funding and they almost always bounce straight back up – Newcastle Falcons, who were relegated last year, have won all 11 of their games so far this season. The new plan will make the gap in wealth even vaster and make it even more difficult for clubs to break into the elite.

    There are other implications for rugby league, given that four union clubs in the Championship groundshare with league clubs. London Broncos play on the same ground as Ealing Trailfinders, who are currently second in the RFU Championship behind Newcastle Falcons – who play on the same ground as league club Newcastle Thunder. Coventry, who share the revamped Butts Park Arena with rugby league club Coventry Bears, may also make the play-offs. With Yorkshire Carnegie (who groundshare with Leeds Rhinos) miles adrift at the bottom of the Championship, mid-table Doncaster Knights – who are coached by dual-code guru Clive Griffiths – could well be the only northern club in union’s second tier next season.

    There is speculation that Ealing and London Scottish are considering leaving the Championship for the multinational Pro-14 instead. What price Ealing deciding to partner the Broncos in a bid to reach Super League and pulling up a seat around at least one of rugby’s top tables?


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