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Bradford Bulls: No money, no coach, no hope?

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George Riley George Riley | 22:35 UK time, Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Bradford blame game this week intensified as the stricken Bulls edged closer to the point of no return. For any rugby league fan this situation is disheartening, even heartbreaking.

Administration always looked the inevitable outcome, even when fans bent over backwards to keep the club going, even when the Bulls hierarchy stood firm amidst the financial mess over which it had presided.

And so despite the departure of chairman Peter Hood, the half million pounds of fans' cash, and the auctioning of treasured personal possessions from the club's glittering history, the four-time champions find themselves without any backroom staff and without, it seems, any guidance or reassurances from above that they can even carry on.

The same players who found out about the club's uncertain future via twitter on their way to training, this week turned up to a crunch meeting with administrator Brendan Guilfoyle having not been told he had cancelled it.

This is about salvaging a business. But it is also real life. And the players are increasingly desperate. The Rugby Football League are offering practical assistance to the Bulls' unpaid players on debt-management, mortgages and investment. But could they have done more?


Bradford fans feel angry, misled and left in the dark. Photo: PA

When I posed this question to chief executive Nigel Wood six weeks ago the answer was emphatic. Is Rangers' rocky road the fault of the Scottish Premier League? Was Portsmouth's plight the Premier League's fault?

Wood told me the RFL's job is "to create the best possible environment for well-run clubs to flourish and establish themselves" adding "it is still down to local management at club level to make the best of the opportunity the sport presents." But this is an argument that has begun to wear thin with some observers.

I had an angry phonecall from Australian forward Clint Newton this week calling for Wood's resignation. A veteran of Super League rugby and now back in the NRL with Penrith after a 100-game career with Hull KR, Newton is a passionate rugby league man and ardent supporter of the British game, and is furious at the state of the game. "I'm embarrassed for Nigel Wood and the people who are supposedly controlling the game" he told me, pointing to the financial failings of Crusaders, Wakefield and now Bradford on the RFL's watch.

Wood insists otherwise, making it quite clear that the responsibility for any business's finances lies with its own board of directors. "They are in power and set ticket prices and season ticket prices and player contracts," he says pointedly in reference to Bradford's problems. This argument angers Newton, a former member of the Super League Dream Team.

"That is one of the biggest cop outs you will see in professional sport," he says. "Can you give a licence to Bradford based on projected revenue. If we were all living in Never Never land we could come up with all sorts of projected figures. I don't understand how the RFL can again get away with what they are doing."

The RFL argue Bradford's financial projections were strong and the licence was warranted, with the situation deterioriating rapidly after the withdrawal of support from RBS at a time when the club was still repaying Leeds over the Iestyn Harris transfer. But Newton wants accountability at the very top.

"Wood should have resigned a few years ago but he needs to fall on his sword now as do a couple of other people there," he claims.


Clint Newton

Former Hull KR forward Clint Newton says he fears for the future of the game Photo: Getty


"But it comes down to the club owners. If the majority of club owners wanted him gone he'd be gone."

As predictable as administration may have been when Hood first sounded the alarm bell in his local newspaper at Easter, it was unthinkable that the Bulls would allow themselves to go down that route after cashing in on the supporters' goodwill.

Players and fans I have spoken to feel angry, misled and now in the dark. Fans are wondering why they bothered raising money to keep their club from administration when it has happened anyway, and perhaps was always likely to be thus.

With liabilities to cover a loan from RBS, Hood may have thought he had no option but to plead for the fans' cash to cover this, even if administration would follow.

I also understand that the initial £500,000 shortfall met ultimately by the fans, was largely down to a miscalculation in projections on the club's season ticket pledge scheme.

Again, these are questions we may never get answered. Yet there is a much bigger issue. Is this the strongest indication yet that the game in its current state, and under its current governing body, is unsustainable?

Newton say so. "Do I fear for the future of Super League? Definitely. The fans will be left asking what has happened to our game that was once very strong and viable. The competition cannot survive with 14 teams in the current economic crisis."

As for Bradford, they now have no money, no coaching staff, no administrative staff and vastly disappearing hope.

One hope is former title-winning boss Brian Noble returns with his midas touch until the darkest of the clouds has passed. The main hope is to find a buyer, immediately.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Clubs In Super League spent too much in relation to what they earn. The Rugby Football League certainly isn't to blame for that, as Mr Wood explained. I don't know what you don't understand about that George.
    Stay well within your budget. Develop other sources of income other that just Rugby League. It's that simple. If some players go elsewhere because they want more, let them. The game is bigger than individuals.
    If the Bradford club was running up a lose of a 100k per month, then why ask average folk for help? It was a lost cause anyway. As for Clint Newton, he should know the game over in the UK isn't as financial as it is in Australia. You cut your cloth to suit your measure.
    Super League will survive with fiscal responsibility and good business practice.

  • Comment number 2.

    Sadly Bradford are going down! Not enough money coming in, too much going out? thats business, and they simply are paying too much salary to the personell. What on Earth is Noble going to do? He is and always has been a second rate coach? he inherited a great team at Odsal and couldnt fail, anyone could have coached them, The fans have a right to criticise him? they pay the money, is he going to do it for free. I dont think so. Bradford actually need to go bust to survive, they would come back into the championship and have to start again. I notice that Hetherington is keeping quiet about the matter, after all he probably started the ball rolling with the Harris affair?
    But the RL need to take a look at themselves also? after buying Odsal why didnt they run the rule over what was happening at Bradford?

  • Comment number 3.

    How can Newton blame the RFL? The root of the issue at Bradford is simply poor management by previous regimes. The same can be said of Crusaders and Wakefield. Some clubs need to take a good look at how Glover is running Wakefield at the moment. After their problems a couple of years ago, they are a club on the rise, all down to good management practice. It isn't rocket science. Clubs shouldn't get themselves into these situations, especially since the vast majority of the salary cap (approx £1.2m) is paid by the SKY contract. Again, I feel the RFL has received undue criticism for this issue. It seems the only people praising the RFL at the moment are the Championship clubs!

  • Comment number 4.

    #1 I understand the situation fairly well, not sure how you are interpreting Newton's arguments as my own.
    #2 can you blame Gh for the Harris affair?

  • Comment number 5.

    Nigel Wood knows what he is talking about with outgoings exceeding incomings, after all, he bankrupted Halifax by spending too much on players with not enough money to pay for them. Before bailing out and resurfacing and taking over the RFL.

    And the answer to your question George is yes. I blame Gary Hetherington for the Iestyn Harris affair, along with the RFL. Leeds didn't want him back after the emergence of Burrow and Maguire, he pursued it purely for the compensation they could recieve. Without knowing the figures I should imagine that it is vast when court and solicitors fees are added and will have had a major part in Bradfords economic situation. Maybe if the club goes under those figures will come out and we will have some answers at last.

    But that whole saga could have been avoided. It is down to the RFL who ratified Bradford signing the player. They cleared the transfer, if there was a clause that stated Leeds had first call on him then why did they allow the transfer to go ahead? I was of the opinion that once the court found in favour of Leeds that Bradford should sue the RFL. If they had done their job in the first instance then there would have been no issue to take to court.

    You might have guessed I am a Bradford fan, and my club is going to the wall, no doubt about it. I went to Wigan and it was amazing but it could be the last game I ever attend supporting my club. We just want our club to continue but I would love some answers as well.

  • Comment number 6.

    The executives responsible for telling desperate fans they could save the Bulls from administration by giving £100 each should be criminally investigated!! This wasn't just begging buckets, they had it advertised on the club website. The fans acted in good faith and were cheated out of hard earned cash. Daylight robbery given the fact that the goal was never achievable! Someone at the top should be brought before the courts for this.

  • Comment number 7.

    #4 George.

    What I said George was that you don't seem to understand what Nigel Wood is saying. The Clinton comment was about what he said, I didn't attribute it to you.

  • Comment number 8.

    As a Leeds fan firstly let me say I am saddened by what is happening at Bradford but I think all the many comments I have read laying Bradford's problems at Leeds door are utter rubbish. The two camps had differing views about the rights and wrongs of the Harris move and when tested in court Leeds won. However, have the Bradford fans asked themselves why Harris wanted to go to them, love for their city and club? Hardly. It was down to money he was being offered. Leeds have been run on a sound fiscal basis bradford haven't. How many SL clubs have been fined for breaking the salary cap? Leeds haven't .

  • Comment number 9.

    I guess I like so many others are struggling to understand how this could happen in a sport that brought in a salary cap to protect clubs from this sort of thing. Remember the reason was to protect clubs from themselves.

    We know St Helens and Bradford both broke it during their dominant years (and Wigan deliberatly broke it when faced with relegation) so maybe the RFL should have been stricter and not changed the conditions.

    Having said that though the Melbourne Storm in the NRL showed that the governing body can always be misled (I think they ran two account books one to meet the salary cap and one "unofficial" one).

    I feel sorry for the fans and past players who gave money and memoribillia to try to save the club and of course the players who have been left hung out to dry.

  • Comment number 10.

    I am worried for the state of game. Watching the game on Monday (Widnes v Cas), they were far too many empty seats for top level rugby league. The money just isn't there. The competition with other sports makes it forever harder. And everyone is feeling the pinch of the economic slump!
    On a separate issue, I read that Brian Noble is copping a load of flak from Bulls fans for agreeing to step in and help coach on Sunday. Come on! As he has said, he's trying to help. As a Hull KR fan who contributed £50 to the Bulls cause, I feel this behaviour is out of order from Bulls fans - get a grip, all this mess is not Noble's fault for goodness sake.

  • Comment number 11.

    Without a sugar daddy prepared to lose money year after year Bradford are not viable at Odsal unless they are getting in ~15000+ crowds paying market rate. Difficult to see how they get out of it in the long term even if they get over the short term issues.

    As for Harris they were made well aware he had a contract with Leeds even if they didn't hold his RL registration, and choss to go ahead. Blaming anyone other than themselves from hetherington to the rfl doesn't change the fact that their desire to put one over Leeds cost them a great deal.

  • Comment number 12.

    Welcome back George. I have to say I remain surprised that nobody has put in a bid for Bradford; as Rangers fans will know, a prospective buyer who thinks setting up a new entity is easy should think again. I feel particularly sorry for anyone that donated to Bradford as they have been well and truly ripped-off.

    Let's hope Bradford rise from the ashes, preferably as a club with its supporters holding a substantial stake in the club - like the North Wales Crusaders. Of course this means the club may be out of Super League for a while but I think that they could get back in a few years due to the size of their fanbase.

    I am no great fan of Nigel Wood and the RFL; the Crusaders debacle still annoys me and stems from a hasty decision to put a Welsh club in SL - but on this issue he is right; it is up to the club to decide how much to spend on salaries, to set season ticket prices (at Bradford wasn't it just £70 for an early bird season ticket?) In short, to run the club properly. A 3 year license is meant to help eliminate the very situation we are seeing unfold at the Bulls. That said, I do think the RFL should be monitoring expenditure and fiscal planning much more closely.

    Contrast this with Wakefield and how, under good ownership things have turned around. When Catalans first started, they prudently based their budget on crowds of 5,000 (attendance is now roughly double this number); why didn't the previous owners of Bradford follow these examples and cut their cloth accordingly?

    Re: Iestyn Harris, this saga cost Bradford dearly but if the situation had been reversed wouldn't the same action have been taken?

    I also take issue with some of Clint Newton's comments. Rugby League has always survived on the edge and I remember Martin Offiah wondering aloud that SL might only last 5 years! Super League since has grown as a competition, but it is never going to match the NRL in popularity.

  • Comment number 13.

    As a Bradford Northern/Bradford Bull fan of 47 years i am truly sickened at the abuse that has been directed at former directors,coaches in the various forms available and the general blame game. Lets face it, the club has been mismanaged for several years and all the excuses are merely contributory factors but the last two years has been a steady decline. However, the one big question is how we managed to obtain a licence when the annual accounts have been "qualified" for many years.
    I am resigned to being excluded from Super League which I can accept as whilst Sky has kept the game going for 20 years it is ultimately killing it for the supporters who actually turn up for matches if the day and kick off time hasn't been changed and i feel for Bradford to have any long term future we will have to accept playing somewhere else as Odsal is just not sustainable especially when we do not have the lease,( Thanks Ken, i just wish we had all boycotted Morrisons for the last 10 years like my son has)..

    As for the long term future of Super League, well i think it will survive but in what format remains to be seen .

  • Comment number 14.

    As a Rhinos fan I would like to say that I would like the Bulls to survive and remain as a as a Super League club. Although we are great rivals I believe that we need the intensity of the local derby's because irrespective of league positions at the time, form goes out of the window.
    I think the demise of the Bulls is sad for the game and feel for the fans, especially the way they have been treated over the past few months. However, I am disappointed in the adverse reaction that appears to have been directed towards Bradford legend, Brian Noble, taking over as coach in the interim. Surely the supporters should realise that he has the Bulls at heart, and at this moment in time represents the best way forward. The man is Bradford through and through, and also a true Rugby League man! It is sad to hear that he has become embroiled in this fiasco.
    Unfortunately it seems the Bulls have been badly managed over several years - the Harris fiasco and the salary cap breaches and it seems like it is coming home to roost. I truely hope that somebody comes forward and rescues the Bulls for the sake of Rugby League in general!

  • Comment number 15.

    Last year the franchises were renewed, these problems have not crept up out of nowhere, so where was the due diligence in awarding Bradford Bulls a Super League licence? This gaping hole in the accounts would have stood out to any reasonable person with an understanding of accounts. The RFL couldn't run a kiddies lemonade stall, sorry, but they lack the professionalism that governs the running of the RFU, and it kills me to say that. The best hope for the RFL in this country is for the running of the sport to be taken over by the NRL, and hope they can keep at least 10 teams running in the Super League until there is some sort of economic upturn to bring more money into the game. The only other options is the nightmare scenario of talking to the RFU about some sort of merger at the top level and looking to take on Football for the money that is out there. If that happens I'll be going to amateur games down the park rather than watch.

  • Comment number 16.

    As a Welsh union fan the plight of Bradford is sad to see; particularly so after the community rallied around to raise a substantial amount of money only to be sold down the river. Frankly it’s only a matter of time before one of Wales’ regional franchises goes down the same route; people just don’t have the money (or perhaps the desire) to watch live sport anymore unless it’s soccer and that’s hardly a sport renowned for its fiscal responsibility!

  • Comment number 17.

    I was at the Wigan Bradford match, supporting Wigan in the Bradford area. Their fans deserve better from their owners whoever they maybe in the next weeks/months/years.

    RFL need to review the finances of the game and reveal which clubs have money, which clubs don't and which clubs are close to the door.

    To blame the Harris transfer is a cheap shot. £650,000 with legal fee include. How can a transfer 6 years ago pretty much be a third/quarter of the debt of the club.

    If the Rugby League clubs are struggling are cash why not bring out a video game for fans. We haven't had one since 2009 on the market, having one out before the World Cup next year could help with promotion of the tournament in areas where the game might not be that strong.

  • Comment number 18.

    The Bradford Bulls situation is very unsettling, not only because it suggests that rugby league finances are in a parlous state – too many other sports have clear evidence of this to single out RL – but also because Bradford is one of the biggest names in the sport.

    What perplexes me with the Bulls situation is how their finances have gone so badly wrong. They remain one of the best supported clubs in Super League, historically have had strong local sponsorship and although there is little in the way of Super League sponsorship money, there is income from the main broadcasters. With all of that, and given that there is a salary cap, I can’t work out how the club can be so far in debt, and continue to lose money at an apparent £100K per month.

    Clint Newton is way off beam in demanding the head of the RFL; Red Hall licensing criteria were designed to stop teams overspending insanely and to live within their budget, yet the Bulls – and if rumours are true – at least two other clubs are getting close to the brink. It’s not the RFL’s responsibility for Bradford deciding to frontload their season-ticket sales to such as extent that they don't get much revenue from each game?

    According to the attendance figures I have been able to find, Bradford are averaging 12,500 per home Super League game this season and if fans paid on average just £8 per game, the gate revenue would exactly match the £1.3 million salary cap.

    One assumes that the RFL will not allow the club to be taken over without due diligence being carried out – and not the type of due diligence exercised by the former Glasgow Rangers club. Quite simply, if the new club owners save the club but cannot afford to run the club on a Super League financial footing or fulfil Super League licensing criteria, then they must lose their place at Rugby League’s top table for at least the remainder of this three-year period.

    I will be intrigued to know if the RFL has in place a sanction to prevent the owners of a club running it into the ground and then moving onto another franchise or club. The men responsible for the mess that is the Bradford Bulls should not be allowed to have any involvement with any other rugby league for a significant period of time.

  • Comment number 19.

    Harris issue as been a massive financial burden on Bradford ironic that those responsible for his signing have not been held to account.

    Interesting that Brian Noble who was in charge when signing Harris looks like he could come back as intrim coach and subsequently the legal advice for the transfer came from Chris Casey who is rumoured to be interested in taking back over.

    It was only two years later(2006) that Bradford received a fee in excess of 450 thousand pounds for Stuart Fielden what happened to that money?

  • Comment number 20.

    What are the RFL doing I thought they where checking clubs monthly to make shaw they where not going over the salary cap. I would of thought this would have shown the RFL the hole Bradford was digging them selves by miss management. Did the RFL not wonder or get to know why Bradford had to sell the ground to them that should have been another eye opener for the RFL to looking to what was going on.

    For the Iestyn Harris saga the RFL would not have got involved because they would not want to upset the Hetherington's. If it had been between Wakfield or Castlford at the time it would have been a very diffrent out come.

    Brian Noble was that bad at the club all the years he has put into the club as a player and a coach the trophys they won under him. It may be another coach got them in but he was still working there at the same time. When he took over he still had to manage them and get them playing as a team. As far as we know he might be offering his help for free.

    The only way that Bradford will be in super league next year is if they get a suger daddy with deep pockets then the RFL will look after them.

  • Comment number 21.

    I believe that the RFL is deluded, simple economics dicatate that when income is consistently less than expenditure the result is insolvency. The RFL is sitting watching as the game is bled dry by Murdoch. The RFL must impose a strict financial framework, which gives true club franchises the opportunity to develop and prosper. Super league is as strong as its weakest club. The current licensing system is a cop out. The license does nothing to secure the interests of the investor and there is no tangible evidence that the salary capo has been as effective as the RFL would have hoped. The larger better supported clubs are still dominant.
    Bradfords fate was sealed during their years of success income never quite met expenditure and as the clubs standing slipped the losses grew. The route for the Bulls is liquidation, how can any sensesible investor see a return, when the price of purchase as a going concern includes covering all losses incurred.

  • Comment number 22.

    To quote Mr Wood, he sees the RFL's responsibility as, "to create the best possible environment for well-run clubs to flourish and establish themselves". I believe his responsibility is to secure and sustain the game, despite the existence of badly run clubs and TV companies who do not always have the best interests of our game at heart.

    Most businessmen who enter sport either, indulge in a hobby or fulfil chidhood dreams even to create a tax vehicle to offset earnings elsewhere, generally accept that unless they are prepared to fork out of their own funds, the clubs are not strong enough to sustain profit. There is no consistent record of profit anywhere in UK sports club operation. In football, English Premier League owners are largely foreign based concerns attracted by the pull of global branding, which lucrative TV and communication contracts have created.

    If Wood intends to create the environment in which the game and the clubs can prosper the RFL must accept more responsibility for many aspects of the games development.

    1. The RFL must own all the club franchises
    2. The RFL must directly control TV and mechandising activity and income and the distribution this income throughout the game
    3. The RFL must take responsibility for youth development along with BARLA, the schools and University Rugby League. A draft pick system should be created to distribute all talent throughout the professional game.

    The RFL must ensure that the franchise, when sold, has a value and is not a liability to any potential investor. Did the RFL realise that their purchase of Odsal would create the situation with the Bulls banker's that it did? Anyone with an iota of business sense would realise that the sale of Odsal, in the circumstances the Bulls were in, would lead to a loss of bank confidence.

  • Comment number 23.

    It’s the fans I feel sorry for, some have spent a lot of money on future season tickets, pledges etc.

    Now they have no team to support!

    Could they all start supporting Leeds? It’s only down the road and Bradford is a suburb of Leeds anyway.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think in most sports, clubs will speculate to achieve success (or to retain it, in Bradford's case). Sometimes those speculations pay off, and most of the time they don't.

    Rugby League is at heart a working class sport, and is much more vulnerable than bigger sports due to its fan base, and relative weakness in central funding (Sky money, international programme, A-list sponsorship etc.).

    The RFL is right to offload responsibility for local management to the clubs, but it does have an overall responsibility for the health and success of the game and therefore has to step in where necessary. What to do?

    I'm not sure that you can legistlate for poor decisions. The signing of Harris was disastrous on a number of fronts, for a player well past his rugby league prime. It was an effort to get one over on Leeds which backfired badly. But nobody has mentioned the other poor signings - Matt Orford anyone?

    In a spirit of competition, most clubs will over-extend themselves in the hope of better days again and jam tomorrow, given the chance.

    We need more local players playing Super League, and even more work in identifying and developing young talent.

    I would strongly argue we need less clubs in Super League. Plough what limited resources we have into areas which we're going to get most return on, and never erode the value of the end product on the field. I watched the last Origin game, and the standard was just a different planet compared to the Exiles game over here. We have so much to catch up on.

    I think the RFL has been too slow to strategically change direction in the grip of very sour economic times. In sport it's easy to live in a bubble - until receipts start slowing down and you have clubs going pop. We need to plan for the worst and then anything better is an opportunity we can take advantage of.

    I believe we can achieve a retrenchment whilst still improving standards on the field.

    For those quoting Sky money or gate receipts as being sufficient to cover the salary cap - well OK, but what about your ground costs, office staff, coaches and directors, interest repayments and other banking and accountancy charges etc... ? I can totally see why a club like Bradfod, off a sequence of bad judegement calls, could be losing £100k per month.

    Also for those criticising the RFL for awarding Bradford a license - what else would you have them do? One of the biggest brands in the domestic game has a fair bit of clout and it would take an extraordinarily brave man to deny them a license if there's a chance they could trade through.

    Here's a controversial idea: a staggered salary cap. Base it on the previous year's gate/merchandising/sponsorship revenue, factor in things such as the trend increase or decrease from the previous year, and work on £1.2m, £1.0m, £0.8m bandings. Clubs wanting to spend more on players are either going to have to work hard to improve their core business and marketing operations *first*, and/or really concentrate on developing their local juniors to compete.

    We don't have a level playing field now despite a level salary cap in reality, so let's tighten it up.

  • Comment number 25.

    #22 Bobfrombev -

    While you make a valid point regarding the environment, one aspect the RFL has been negligent over is marketing the sport. They need to send their marketing person - if they have one (they do seem to keep on leaving) - to Australia so they can study how it is done well and then tone it down to suit our much limited budget. The Aussies know how to do sport. Their Olympics was fantastic. Their marketing of the NRL is terrific. We only know how to do soccer (and most of the marketing for that is pretty nauseous).

    As for the Bulls situation, I believe it has predominantly been brought about by the irresponsibility of the club's board. The RFL might have been negligent (not in the legal sense) in that they have not enforced the rules of licensing but then who among us knows exactly what rules it is legally able to enforce? Can the RFL demand to see the actual books as opposed to what they do see (a projection created by the club)? If the books don't match, are they legally able to enforce what they called at the outset of this licence period a 'live' licence, stating publically that no club is guaranteed a place for the full three years?

    I do agree that the RFL is culpable to some degree but the primary responsibility must rest with the Bulls board.

  • Comment number 26.

    SaintDi

    I agree with most of what you have said, I am concerned that the RFL has done nothing to attract the right people into the game by failing to recognise the opportunity that a well created franchise offers. The license system is a cop out, the RFL have not enhanced its product, they haved relied solely on Sky TV, who have acquired control of the greatest spectator sport in the world by default. Any change in Sky's funding could dramatically impact on the welfare of the game and the prospects for any franchisee or licencee.

    The RFL must follow the example set by US sporting bodies, and be the custodian of the game and it's values and take full control of the games future.

    The game should be the property of the RFL and the fans, instead it is controlled globally by Sky TV, the financial risk is borne by the clubs, in the temporary care of boards of directors deemed wealthy enough to meet the financial shortfall.

  • Comment number 27.

    Unfortunately there are only around half a dozen teams who are financially viable so a salary cap is ineffectual becuae the lower teams will never catch up in terms of finance and facilities. Maybe it is time to look at expanding SL to 16 teams in a two tier system of 8 teams each. The salary cap in the SL1 would reflect the higher profile of these teams in it at £2m or 50% of income (whichever is the lower) and teams in SL2 to have a cap of £1.5m or 50% of income whichever is the lower. It would also give us promotion and relegation between the two divisions but membership would only open to those clubs willing to have their finances scrutinised every month by an independent accountants and only well run clubs would be admitted.

  • Comment number 28.

    # 27

    I like your idea Stretford, but wonder about it's financial viability.

    SL is trying to box above its weight. Players are well paid and the standard of skill exceptional for a code that virtually flies below the radar in most of Britain. Player numbers are up and it is being played over more of the UK than ever before. In the long run, that will improve its profile, but RL will always be fighting to be noticed. Always fighting to create enough revenue. (In NZ and Australia, Association Football is where RL is in the UK. It will never rival the oval ball codes).

  • Comment number 29.

    After spending more money than they had and basking in the Super League/ Glory it has finally caught up with them. It is no more than they deserve. While other smaller teams are struggling within their means this lot were spending money as if there was no tomorrow. It wont be long before more Super League clubs go under and we are left with the old guard of Rugby that is those in the lower divisions and a few teams from Super League who may survive. Maybe we can then have our game back as it was or just have our game back . Lets be honest although it was pie and peas stuff in the 70s and 80s Rugby League has been dead for ages. What with ever changing rules/ numerous Aussie terms/promotion and relegation changes all the time its really gained no more respect Nationally than it had in the 70s/80s.Lets see how these big headed self centred Super League teams go on when Sky pull the plug and Stevo and Wiggy are redundant.Long live RUGBY LEAGUE and down with Super League

  • Comment number 30.

    Well said #29.

    Bring back a game where props push, hookers hook, scrum halves feed the scrum and then pass to the out half! Where you can usually tell the difference between forwards and backs, where the loose forward (remember that position?) was usually the star of the show! In short, bring back proper rugby league!

  • Comment number 31.

    This "crisis" began in February 1996 when the World 9's were being played. "Free" money in amounts RL clubs could only dream about so they sqaundered it and have done so ever since because the "Free" money was always going to be there.

    The clubs that year were given a fait accompli and they abused it in such a way the RL has declined in so many ways since. .

    They sowed, they reaped they didn't realise that seed corn is needed for the next season and so it continued.

    The consequences of which are.......................

    Also don't forgwt that large swathes of "free" money were given to journeymen, crocked, pension seeking, holidaying Anzacs who couldn't believe their luck, and of course the argument was their involvement would "enhance" RL in this country!!!!!

    Still waiting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    Re #30.

    You don't go far enough mate. Let's go back to 20 a side and bring back hacking. We can also revive the coal industry so that we can shout down the pit head whenever we need a prop. Oh and proper names, none of this nickname rubbish. Proper names like Hornets and Glassblowers or Riversiders.

    Or we could admit it's 2012 and deal with the modern world in today's game. A game that is still the greatest.

 

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