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Don't shoot the messenger

Date

Steve Mascord

THE parochialism of rugby league fans is admirable. But when a report says Super League clubs owe £68.5 million ($103.4 million) and people start blaming the journalist, something is amiss.

This is the British game's big week. Super League kicks off on Friday with Leeds playing Hull and (back from the dead) Salford hosting Wigan, while the NRL pre-season starts.

The BBC Inside Out programme, quite reasonably and thankfully, decided to preview the season in a serious way by getting the balance sheets of as many clubs as possible (11 from 14), adding up the debt and speaking to a sports finance expert about the state of the game.

"Using a term like 'Rugby League is staring at the financial abyss' is not too harsh a thing to say," said Sheffield Hallam University's Rob Wilson.

Yet some fans say the report, by George Riley, should never have been done and it is unfair on rugby league as rugby union and soccer have similar – or worse – challenges.

Let's get this straight. A player might think it is in the interests of rugby league for his team to lose. Does he throw the game? No. A referee might believe an underdog victory would be good for the sport. Does he fix the contest? No.

An administrator might think the comp would be better off without his struggling club. Does he let them fold? No.

Why are journalists the only people in rugby league who are supposed to not do their jobs in the interests of the game?

If the journalist doesn't do his job, incompetence and corruption get a leg-up. The best way we can show our love of the game is not by cheer-leading but by playing our part with determination and integrity.

Rugby league might look bad in the short term as a result of certain stories we write. But the long-term consequences of going easy on everybody and covering things up are far more dire.

Good story, George.

Now, it would be a new low for me to be scooped over something that appeared on my own Facebook page so here's what South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson posted there regarding the BBC report:

"The Rugby League financial situation has not really changed for at least the last 10 years. Robust, no but like all sports it struggles financially, but in many ways it is certainly more robust than Rugby. The reality is though there are too many clubs in Super League to support either the financial model nor the players supply."

And this:

"Many of the clubs are run far better than their Oz counterparts whose poor trading is hidden by declining Pokie facades."

So, some British clubs are run better than NRL clubs. Interesting stuff.

In the ball park

IF you're in Sydney and looking for something to do on Saturday, don't forget the International Nines at Cabramatta Leagues Club ground.

Would you believe The Philippines have entered three teams? Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Italy, Greece, Tonga, Niue, Japan, Greece, Portugal and American Samoa will all be represented.

Gates open at 8.30am and it goes all day.

Forum feedback

THANKS for all the comments on last week's column, in which the main topic was the All Stars game. I proposed having the Pacific All Stars involved every second year.

Davince said the game should be used as a promotional tool in areas like Perth. That's not a bad idea. As for Auckland, they already have the Nines next year – from what I understand – so I'd imagine that's the way they want to go in future. I agree that we need to promote players who come from the developing states better than we do. Ben Barba could do wonders for the game in the Northern Territory.

Davince was also concerned at Penrith's Phil Gould saying that 2015 is the year they are aiming at. I'm not going to criticise honesty, Davince!

Pedro doesn't like the All Star game on racial grounds. I'd agree it would not work in almost any other country. It's an indication of the unique race dynamics in Australia that so far it has generated nothing but goodwill. Maybe I'll try to examine why next week.

Earthquake says the charity work involved in the Indigenous All Stars would suffer if they only played every second year. He makes a very good point and I accept it. He says AMNRL should not be owned by a body that promotes rugby union. Many people would agree with him.

Pankag Rao called for the public to vote for Origin teams. We should do the poll anyway.

Here's the forum: http://whitelinefever.ning.com/forum/topics/discord-2013-one-israel-folau-and-chasing-players-from-other-code

Here's the podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/white-line-fever/id494213902

3 comments so far

  • Off topic question, what's happening with the international broadcast rights that used to be served by livesport.tv?
    The NRL website still shows livesports.tv on it's direct link
    http://www.nrl.com/NRLHQ/ReferenceCentre/InternationalBroadcastInformation/tabid/10443/Default.aspx
    but livesports.tv says it will not be showing the NRL this year.
    GIven it's a week until the Allstars game I'm getting a bit worried, as two emails to the NRL have not been replied to and most of my internet searches don't give me a conclusion.
    Seems like I gotta ask the people who get results.. the journos! any word on this?

    Commenter
    Bloke
    Location
    China
    Date and time
    February 02, 2013, 11:32AM
    • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-21162916
      Part of the report can be seen at the link - the BBC iplayer option won't work in Aus. it would be interesting to see how the Nrl clubs would fare if their finances were examined. As Richo mentions the leagues club subsidies have been masking the true picture for a long time. Though i note that Souths are valued at zero according to the Sun Herald today, with Rusty and Squash Court having sold off the significant leagues club asset on Chalmers st. Thankfully the ARLC seems to have a real focus on making the clubs sustainable entities. In John Grant we trust.
      In other news the St. Helens Huddersfield match on Eurosport this morning was a good one. It reminded me of how poorly St George used to start the season under Brownie.
      Finally, Setanta has dropped coverage of the UK Championship, due to insufficient ratings apparently. We finally got to see occasions like the Heavy Woollen derby and the Northern Rail cup final for one season only to have it cruelly snatched away. I urge all discord readers to petition Setanta via customerservice-au@setanta.com

      Commenter
      Oethesaint
      Location
      Rugby league planet
      Date and time
      February 03, 2013, 7:42PM
      • I would go along with Richardsons view that there are to many teams in Superleague.I think 10 would be the most you could properly finance but who misses out? You would have to bring back promotion and relegation.I think the NRL should help its superleague cousin and buy the Australian tv rights at an inflated price and then on sell them more than likely at a loss, a sort of charitable donation.
        On the allstars I would prefer a WORLD 9s (not an NRL9s )to the all star game but if it must remain can we make it a true Indigenous all-stars match Aboriginals v Maori.At the moment the players don't care about playing for the NRL side which is proven by the number of withdrawls.

        Commenter
        paulmac
        Location
        Gold Coast
        Date and time
        February 05, 2013, 1:10PM

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