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We live in an era when mediocre businesses can make a lot of money out of a bad situation. A4e make a lot of money out of unemployment, G4S make millions despite failing to deliver their services for the Olympics, and recently the RFL have recorded a record turnover for running rugby league. These three organisations have at least one thing in common; a large number of people who associate themselves with any of them feel disillusioned with what they have to offer.
Since this is a rugby league column I’ll stick to what is in the interest of my readers. As much as I hold a fondness for how Headingley currently is, there’s no doubt that the RFL’s agenda is to turn every stadium into a carbon copy of the more modern stadiums currently residing in Super League. For example St Helens and Salford have moved to modernised stadiums in recent years because of what the SL licence requires. Wakefield and Castleford are both scrambling for new stadiums in fear of losing their SL licences. Yet Leeds Rhinos seem to be exempt from modernising all of Headingley stadium. This is possibly because in that time the Rhinos have been very successful indeed by winning a lot of trophies.
The relentless strive for modernisation during the super league era by the RFL has come at the expense of clubs like Featherstone and Halifax who entertained fans in the championship for three years whilst Widnes with their shiny stadium turned up for one. Since Widnes have won a licence to play in Super League they’ve not impressed whatsoever. The point here is do what the RFL want you to do, and it doesn’t matter how bad the entertainment is on the playing field because they will look after your club's ambitions at any expense. For example: look at the sorry state that London Broncos are in.
The heart of what makes the rugby league community tick is what happens on the field. Without that, what happens off the field would become irrelevant. Unfortunately it’s more profitable for the RFL to encourage performance off the field more than performance on it. After all the RFL is just a glorified group of administrators who wouldn’t get paid if they couldn’t add something to the spectacle of what happens on the field. The sport needs administrators who serve what happens on the field, and not what happens off it; but that will never happen because the off-field activities are a lot more profitable for those at the RFL, and that’s why they’ve recorded big profits in recent years whilst a large group of people become disillusioned with rugby league.
If we had a governing body which served what happened on the field then our sport would grow bigger and organically over time. I won’t hold my breath on that ever happening though and with this article I’ve probably alienated myself from the powers that be at the RFL for life.
Thanks for reading and it’s good to be back!
P.S. - The Damo Bit is now on twitter