Dear the RFL,
Honestly, this is the last one but this one is a bit more controversial, We’ve discussed New Audience and Increased Revenue ideas, these last ideas are probably the least likely to happen but they do make a good discussion point.
A clear 12-month calendar of events and international games
With the current financial state, there is less disposable income going around, holidays and away trips must be booked earlier to get the best prices, We should know right now when and where the Magic Weekend is being played so hotels can be booked and travel can be organised whilst it’s cheaper and it’s much easier to get a group trip together at 12 months than it is at 4 months.
A five-year game plan
Following on from the 12-month calendar, let’s be open about where we want the sport to be in 5 years and have a plan in place to get there.
- What is the long term plan with the Magic Weekend & Summer Bash
- What is the plan for the build to the UK Hosted World Cup
- What is the plan with the Super 8’s, Qualifiers and the Shield?
- The current broadcast deal ends in 2021, We don’t know what the television market will be like at that time, we need to be prepared for the contract to be renewed but at less than the current one depending on viewership, the inclusion of digital rights, coverage of the championship.
Fill the stadiums
The Magic Weekend & Summer Bash make me proud to be a Rugby League fan, not many sports can have fans from all teams sat next to each other for a weekend of games from teams across a league.
However I’ve first-hand experience of someone new to the sport watching the coverage and the first thing they focus on is how empty the stadium is, it’s embarrassing.
Events like this and the Challenge Cup are a massive marketing opportunity to people new to the sport and we must look at filling the seats as much as possible even if it means sacrificing short term profit to ensure a good visual advert and atmosphere.
Create a culture of more openness.
Whilst the RFL is a business and is under no legal obligation to explain us the reasoning behind any decision. Confidence and support from fans in the decisions made is dependent on openness and explanation. Some of my personal points;
- How successful was the streaming experiment with the England game, how many paid and viewed? Are there any more planned?
- What was the reasoning for Bradford staying in the Championship with a –12 penalty other than ‘it was the for the good of the sport’?
- Is there a plan for the championship clubs IF Bradford is relegated to League One, Toronto is promoted and Catalans replace Hull KR, I imagine the lack of away gate money could be seriously hurtful to some clubs.
- I don’t much care for stories about the salaries of directors, the figure quoted didn’t seem unreasonable if it’s in line with other sports of our size (what does the head of curling make?) or if it’s based on job performance but we don’t know anything about that so of course the number sounds incredible to most of the fan base.
- How was the Wigan home game in London seen internally, do we have more games planned in London or other areas.
Start slowly, get a blog that is updated regularly with some of the things going on at the RFL and grow into it.
I don’t expect a formal response from the ramblings of a fan, I’ve said before that the only thing a Rugby League fan loves more than Rugby League is moaning about Rugby League but I wanted to try and do something constructive and put some ideas out that I’ve not seen discussed before (Like Club Catchup).
Thanks to everyone who has tweeted, retweeted, shared on Facebook or engaged on social media with me to discuss ideas.
This is the last part of the open letter to the RFL and with that, I’ll go back to shouting from the sidelines.