The complete financial meltdown of the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats should be the catalyst for a complete overhaul of the way Rugby League in Great Britain is run.
The sad news is, it won’t be.
By going into administrations before the season kickoff, and then receivership after the first round of the competition, the Wildcats have shown that the financial set up that Rugby League in Great Britain has been running on its completely unsustainable.
This type of financial implosion in now common place in British Rugby League. Clubs at every level are going broke.
This shouldn’t be happening in 2011. In an era where each team gets a guaranteed grant from TV money, where media exposure draws in more sponsors than every before, and where fans can have easier access to attending games and being up to date about where and when they are played, there is no excuse for any club to find themselves in receivership.
This type of thing doesn’t happen overnight. The management at the Wildcats must have seen the writing on the wall for the last few seasons. The audacity of the club to ask for a commitment from Wakefield Council for a brand new stadium while at the same time they knew the club was in financial peril….its no wonder the game struggles to any help from government organizations!
Obviously the salary cap is not working. The salary cap in Super League’s main goal was to stop clubs from spending themselves to death. That hasn’t worked, once again.
So my question as always is, what will the Rugby Football League be doing about this mess?
The salary cap needs changed completely. We need a two tiered salary cap in Super League. One for the likes of Wigan, Warrington, St Helens, Hull FC and Bradford, and another for everyone else.
We have that in a sense now, but its time to make it official. We need to set a far lower salary cap limit for every other team in the league simply because they can’t afford to spend what they do right now.
From there the RFL needs to sit down with the players union and put all their cards on the table. They need to show what the game earns, how much money clubs are losing, and tell them that, while they may want more money, the money just is not there.
The RFL needs to ask itself why, with such a long regular season, the Challenge Cup, Millennium Magic, the Super League playoffs, The Grand Final and the playing of regular international on home soil, why are they STILL not generating enough money?
In short, the financial realities of the entire game in Great Britain needs to be reset.
How can the RFL go to a television company now and offer a 14 team competition when the TV companies know that teams can fall over one week into the season? How can other clubs sell sponsorships to companies when those companies are asking themselves if the team in front of them will be the next over to go bust.
Make no mistake, Wakfield going into receivership has a dramatic effect on the entire game. You can hide clubs at lower levels going bust, you can’t do that once you get to the games highest level. Everyone knows what has happened, and they won’t forget.
I have no doubt that this weekend Wakefield will take the field like nothing happened. The Rugby Football League will sit back and watch, and just be thankful they don’t have to put a bye week into the season.
Nothing will change, and the countdown to the next team going under will start again.
Now…are we really going to blame the BBC, Rugby Union and Soccer for Rugby League slow death in Great Britain?
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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