Dons in dire straits

Rugby league is by no means exempt from the financial climate; the economic crisis has perhaps taken its toll on rugby league the most.

While other sports, such as football, can make little cuts here and there in terms of wage bills, while the rest of the costs are absorbed by huge sponsorship deals, rugby league has had to go through the whole rigmarole of wheeling, dealing, firing and struggling.

Hull KR were reportedly in financial trouble earlier this season, an article that was quashed by Chief Executive Neil Hudgell at Craven Park.

And Doncaster RLFC have hit rock-bottom once again, being forced into administration after their financial situation plummeted into the abyss. Reportedly, they are approximately over £80,000 into the red, a figure which has seen their entire squad on the cusp of being released or sold.

They are not the first club to suffer financial problems. Halifax, who now top National League One, were nearly forced into liquidation in 2006, after failing to pay the £90,000 owed to players. Fortunately, they recovered from their position and now in a strong position to apply for a Super League spot in 2011, providing they manage to execute a Grand Final victory.

So there is a glimmer of hope for Doncaster. Sadly, though, the two sets of circumstances are different, and following the ‘Fax blueprint is not as easy as it looks. Halifax’s attendances reach over 2,000 people. The people of Doncaster have failed to support their club, and it is easy to see why when the marketing budget is perhaps scant due to the stringent measures put in place by the Dons to try and safeguard their future.

I feel the RFL have missed another trick here though. They are in the know of Doncaster’s financial accounts, and should have put one the Challenge Cup ties at the Keepmoat Stadium. It was fine last season as a venue, and would be again this season. This would be financially good for the Dons and at least give them some extra income to work off for the rest of the season.

While all the latest news has been focusing on the England squad debacle, the announcement of signings from Hull FC amongst clubs, the whole issue of the stability of our great clubs, steeped in heritage has been brushed under the carpet.

Perhaps all Super League clubs should also get behind Doncaster by offering a percentage of match-day takings to the club like South Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Eagles have done.

Either that or clubs should work with Doncaster to get supporters of all clubs to Donny games. Fans were all quick to jump on the ‘Save Fax’ bandwagon in 2006? Why not the same Doncaster? It seems with most fans it’s just a shrug of the shoulders and a nonchalant look. Is it because they are not as glamorous? Are they the Scarborough FC of the rugby league world? 

It is time to stop the fat cats at the top of the game from taking the spoils. Rugby league is a sport for fairness, equality and pride; we are not football, we do not have the rich clubs at the top, and leave the poor to rot. Come on Super League clubs, show some humanity for fellow National League clubs.

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