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Where’s the reset button?


By WPL
September 30 2020

So the RFU have stated no rugby to return for Level 3 and below until January at the earliest, I have to say at the moment my personal thoughts are that could be optimistic, but as a regular attendee at our games, so people may argue you have to be an optimist to follow us.

Whether the championship is of a similar outlook I guess only time will tell, for the purposes of this piece I will group them in as though they are similar – let’s be honest is the funding in place to support the player tests? Mind you I have heard the lower leagues in football are doing self-questionnaires and a temperature check only!

So no rugby to January, what does that mean, no income off the gates (granted from level 2 down this may not make a major impact, it will in the premiership), for lower level teams, no bar takings, reduce membership fees, sponsorship packages maybe having to be reduced – how many can survive, I hope everyone but I can imagine it will be tight!

There have been rumours on twitter from normally reliable sources that 1 or 2 Championship clubs were considering their options of leaving the Championship, what this actually means who knows? Drop down to National 1? But then what happens to the teams already there?

But coming back to the title of the piece, the reset button – if this season is written off and even if it’s not and we get half a season is it time to look at the finances and structures, let the money clubs move on and focus on having a competitive structure below.

This year as a semi-pro (at best team) we have journeys to Plymouth, Taunton and several trips to London. In times gone by it would have been an overnight trip, can we afford it this time. I imagine Plymouth might have to be, but lets say Taunton isn’t, 4-5 hours on a coach play a match and then the same back – asking a lot of the players who will have had jobs.

So what can be done – to be honest at this moment in time probably very little, until we know when clubs will get playing and spectators/members start using the facilities what’s the point in planning.

Longer term, I think there has to be a realisation that outside the Premiership 13 (shareholders) and maybe 1 or 2 in the Championship (Ealing and maybe Pirates or Donny) there isn’t the financial backing to be professional with the level that is needed.

Not ring fencing I hear you all call, realistically we’ve had it for many years albeit with 1 on the naughty step for a season. Should this season in the championship actually get underway, even losing some of their superstars does anyone expect Saracens to lose a game?

So what can we do, this maybe be controversial but I would have a distinct split between professional and semi-pro, yes this is ring-fencing by any other name. Depending on the teams that want to be classed a professional, and for this they need to demonstrate a business model that can be sustained, I don’t mean a single source of finance, we know more than most what can happen if that’s the case. I suspect this may take the professional teams up to maybe 14 or 16, to me they can then have 2 divisions to allow for a degree of competition.

The semi-pro teams can then organise themselves into regional divisions, North, Midlands, South East, South West – less expensive travelling, more local derbies, more people attending, more funding for grass routes. Realistically are we going to get more than a handful of die-hards coming up from Plymouth?

At the end of the season, the top team from each division goes into a play-off system. Will this stifle ambition? Well allow the teams at the start of the year consider if they could meet the professional requirements, if they win the playoffs then have a system in place for them to replace/play-off against the bottom team?

Is this likely to happen, I think we can give a resounding no, it would fail at the very top, the premiership 13 will not share their pie and it certainly won’t be getting any bigger. They are already calling for bailouts despite the CVC cash.

Unfortunately, though unless we get some rugby, where spectators can pay to get in and buy some refreshments, I can see several clubs struggling during this period.

I guess the great unknown at the moment, is when do we press the reset button? Until we know when we can start back and what the impacts will be it’s very difficult to plan.

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Where’s the reset button?
Discussion started by TykesRugby.co.uk (IP Logged), 30/09/2020 13:42
TykesRugby.co.uk
TykesRugby.co.uk
30/09/2020 13:42
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Carnegiette2
Carnegiette2
30/09/2020 19:12
Very similar to the article I was going to write.

As to the Championship clubs going to leave- my first thought is to what? Everyone’s got the same problem- and let’s be honest i can’t imagine anyone’s going to be beating their doors down.

Regional makes a lot of sense in Nat 1 or the “semi-pro” League (and I think an inevitable outcome of all this will be that this is a lot of the Champ clubs too). But then again I’d miss out on trips to the South West ........

Am with you on January being optimistic- I’d love to be proved wrong on that one ......

MESSAGES->author
almostatyke
30/09/2020 21:05
Thanks for an excellent article WPL* smiling smiley
I imagine that some Nat 1 clubs will also have a few issues with Sugar Daddy's business going bankrupt.

Regionalisation at the level below the Premiership makes more and more sense IMHO.

Bobba
Bobba
01/10/2020 09:16
Thanks WPL. A very well thought out article.
I'm slowly getting to the point where I believe that, below the Premiership, the season 2020-21 will be written off. Rugby Union at the lower levels will survive however. There are far too many people for whom the sport is very important, whether it be as an ex-player, player, supporter or owner. The RFU will need to rethink its position of financing and supporting the lower levels. How else are they going to fill the vacancies in the National Team and Premiership? It is, after all the young boys and girls in the schools and lower leagues that, in due progress, provide the superstars of the future.
Talking of superstars, if the season is cancelled, what will happen to Sarries? Will they still be required to spend season 2021-22 in the Championship, or will they be coopted back into the Premiership without ever having to touch a ball in the Championship. I suspect the latter!

Carnegiette2
Carnegiette2
01/10/2020 12:14
Bobba though I very much hope you are wrong about the season I have a niggling feeling you might be right.

And yes Sarries- there would be an almighty row what ever happened in that scenario.

Think if anyone gets to play it will be the Championship though. We shall see

leeds exile
leeds exile
01/10/2020 13:08
Would there be any point in playing the Championship if there was no play beneath that level? We all know Saracens will win it and there could be no relegation if no one below was playing to get promoted.

leeds_shark
WPL*
01/10/2020 13:30
The cynic in me suggests this is the time they will bring in the ringfence. Regardless of any games or not they will want sarries back in the top division to me it's just a case of do they go with an odd number or promote one more for an even number?

* not linked to our new home - just the area of Leeds I live in!

Rhinotoo
Rhinotoo
01/10/2020 15:40
Very interesting article but all this talk is pretty irrelevant unless players have guaranteed support.
I think that below the top tier, ANY form of rugby, never mind leagues, is going to struggle to survive.
Speaking to Bristol supporters when we sat in our new south stand a couple of seasons ago, we discussed the future.
Theirs was pretty safe because they had a rich benefactor-still do. ( as one comment above said-will sugar daddies business survive to support them in future, even Sarries?)
Our Yorkshire Carnegie went bust.
They now sit high whilst we ......yes well lets not dwell.
Key to all this are the players. No players, no game. There was a kerfuffle about player support after our demise.
Without funding, how are players to be safeguarded? Medical bills etc are not cheap.
Why should any player put themselves at risk to train and play at ANY lower level?
YC had an X yr plan that died even before Covid. What plan could possible work for lower leagues without funding?
Even lower league soccer clubs are worried about their future, what chance RU?
Sadly, I predict the disappearance of teams, leagues, and goodness knows what else.

MESSAGES->author
Wildwillie
01/10/2020 15:59
Quote:
Carnegiette2
Bobba though I very much hope you are wrong about the season I have a niggling feeling you might be right.

Much as it pains me to admit it I am inclined to agree with Bobba. (Sm124)

Grybz
Grybz
01/10/2020 21:15
There has to be a serious plan put in place for the sport as a whole in this country. As Bobba has said it will survive, whenever it returns, but I cannot see that it will do so in its current state. The Championship clubs were already starting to struggle and their funding has already been cut after the initial budgets were reduced, and they don’t know when or if their season will start.
Things have been put in place to assist the top tier, pretty much all getting European rugby and TV revenue, and no one seems to have done anything about the arbitrary pay cuts the players were given. The autumn internationals have been replaced with this eight team tournament to bring in some revenue. It will also presumably provide an income for the Sarries players! But the championship and below? Left to their own devices with an uncertain future.
I can genuinely see a set up like the Pro14 in England, with a set number of clubs who will be the ring fenced in the professional arena and the rest of the game reverting to amateur, or near amateur, teams. The pros will get their stream of players from academies and cherry picking from the amateur game.
Hope I am wrong but have little faith in the powers that be.

MESSAGES->author
leemingtyke
01/10/2020 23:52
I'd love to see a fully professional 2nd tier but it's absolutely clear that that isnt achievable.

Not enough public interest and not enough super-rich people willing to kiss goodbye to the millions of pounds a season necessary to sustain a professional rugby union club to go around.

And the RFU, too short-sighted to fund it, are seemingly content to be sitting on the very branch that they're sawing through.

So I agree with WPL that rugby outside the top tier will have to go part-time, as we already have. Adapt and overcome.

All of which, of course, means that the gap between premiership rugby and the championship will become even greater than it already is. And that's really sad because it means that hundreds of players won't achieve their full potential in the game.

But as I said earlier, adapt and overcome, or maybe it should be adapt to survive.

Survive it will though. ecause Rugby is a game for the players. A chance remove themselves from the pressures of everyday life and tear it up on the rugby pitch, a place where the characteristics that today's society seems to want to get rid of; controlled aggression, physical strength and a desire to win are acceptable.

Trouble is, for spectators, it's a game you want to see played at the top level, so it seems that while the game does what it has to do to survive, it moves further away from a situation where it can prosper.

Rhinotoo
Rhinotoo
02/10/2020 06:49
It better be a cunning plan eh but more likely to be a Baldrick one?!!
I wonder how all the players are coping currently?
Here we are able to cogitate from our sofas but these guys must be very concerned.
Wish them well!

MESSAGES->author
leemingtyke
02/10/2020 08:07
Yeah, exactly Rhino.

It's their livelihoods going down the pan and I guess a lot of them will be looking for work. I feel for them and wish them all the best of luck.

This has been coming for a while tbh. Glyn Hughes was a fantastic player for us, a very talented rugby player, and he walked away from the professional game a few years ago. I remember saying at the time that it was a real shame that a player as talented as Glyn couldn't make a living from Rugby in this country.

Rhinotoo
Rhinotoo
02/10/2020 08:59
I suppose that all professional sports players will be worried. Both men and women.
Precarious world!
Locally, I do not think that Leeds Tykes will survive.
Whos paying the coaches wages for example?
As the title of this article says, “reset”. We need a sport reset!

Carnegiette2
Carnegiette2
02/10/2020 15:09
[quote Rhinotoo]I suppose that all professional sports players will be worried. Both men and women.
Precarious world!
Locally, I do not think that Leeds Tykes will survive.
[quote]

Well we’re not fully professional anymore so while I share your concerns about Professional sports players I don’t think that necessarily applies to us now.

Gary’s email clearly states the running costs now are a tiny fraction of what they were when we were professional. We don’t rely on income from a clubhouse or facilities - so we’re less affected by the loss of this.

It’s worrying times for everyone in the sport- but I think there’s other clubs probably in a worse situation than us.

Just my opinion of course

Rhinotoo
Rhinotoo
02/10/2020 15:30
After the demise of YC, there was much noise about player medical bills.
What cover would any of our players have, who pays for it etc?
I know what GH is saying, costs are reduced, but these still cannot be insignifucant.
What would happen if a player suffered a life threatening injury? Loss of real daytime job etc
Totally agree that some clubs will be worse off but we aren’t safe are we?

daveyjp
daveyjp
02/10/2020 15:38
Quote:
Rhinotoo
After the demise of YC, there was much noise about player medical bills.
What cover would any of our players have, who pays for it etc?
I know what GH is saying, costs are reduced, but these still cannot be insignifucant.
What would happen if a player suffered a life threatening injury? Loss of real daytime job etc
Totally agree that some clubs will be worse off but we aren’t safe are we?

No different to any one playing non pro sport. The requirement for medical assistance is far lower as the players aren't expensive assets, so its a combination of insurance and NHS.

The club will have some insurance, the player can arrange additional cover if required,

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