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Squatters Do a Houdini
Posted by southstander on April 27 2005 - 08:19:21

Perusing the internet this morning I stumbled across the Leeds Tykes result from last night. Apparently they beat the Harlequins and have managed to lift themselves off the bottom of the league. A win, or defeat by less than seven points, in their last game of the season should see them safe from relegation out of the top flight of English Rugby Union.

But what does this victorty, and apparent salvation, for the squatters mean for the Rhinos? Should we be celebrating or mourning another year of the Tykes in the Zurich Premiership?

From a fans perspective it has always been a bit of an uneasy and uncomfortable marriage between League and Union. Initially, the mere thought of a Union side soiling the Headingley turf with their repetitive line-outs and kicking to each other was heresy. More worrying was the likelihood that the Rhinos would be plundered for their best players to 'help out' the Tykes, and the financial black hole that would ruin both clubs as Caddick pursued his hobby.

Most fears were unfounded, and with the squatters still in residence we have had our most successful season in thirty years, and continue to go from strength to strength as a playing side. There is little cross-fertilisation of ideas between the playing sides, although the Tykes may well be getting more out of any relationship in this area than we are seeing from the Rhinos.

The Rhinos also find themselves in a 'cash-rich' situation at the moment, thanks to bigger crowds and the prize money and sponsorship that success brings. But some credit for our financial stability must also go to the Tykes. Half of the administrative costs at Headingley are met by the Tykes, and whilst we have the biggest office staff of any Superleague team, the wage bill to the Rhinos is probably amongst the cheapest. We also ground share, and therefore share the costs of ground maintenance with the Tykes, all adding up to large savings.

In reality, the Tykes playing at Headingley causes us little grief. They make a mess of the pitch, especially with their infernal line-outs, but apart from that you'd hardly notice that they were there. But of they were to drop out of the top flight, I think that we'd feel their influence at Headingley to a far greater extent. A poor Tykes would need subsidsing from somewhere, and Caddick has made it clear that his patience is running out with his hobby. Tykes out of the premiership would mean a smaller contribution to central running costs, and a bigger financial burden on the Rhinos.

Begrudgingly, I think we should be celebrating the Tykes survival, if indeed it is survival. With a top flight Tykes the status quo can be maintained and we can exist side by side. With the Tykes help on costs, the Rhinos can continue to go from strength to strength.

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