RFL reaches out to fans to discuss 2030 strategy plans

James Gordon
Ralph Rimmer was part of one of the most read stories in 2021

The RFL has reached out to a number of fans to invite them to have their say on the governing body’s strategy leading up to 2030.

Chief executive Ralph Rimmer promised recently that stakeholders throughout the game would be able to feed back on their plans.

That included the players’ union, England performance unit and coaches, while the media are also due to be briefed this week.

The email read: “The RFL is currently reviewing and updating its strategy. As part of that process, we are consulting with a wide range of stakeholders from across the game.

“Speaking with fans of rugby league is a key part of that process and as a valued fan you have been chosen to be invited to join us for a one-hour online group discussion.

“During the hour we will talk you through the draft strategy for the period to 2030 and ask the group for feedback.”

As yet, there has been no indication on how many fans are taking part or how they were selected.

The online sessions are being led by the RFL’s chief operating officer, Tony Sutton.

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The RFL are still progressing with Super League to re-align ahead of the 2022, including another possible re-structure of the game.

Their last formal strategy ran from 2015 to 2021, with a review delayed due to the COVID pandemic.

A mid-term review was published in March 2019.

That strategy included the community membership fee, which is currently being rolled out, as well as building on a legacy beyond the 2021 World Cup.

Clearly the pandemic has impacted the last two years of the planned strategy.

It covers a range of topics, including participation, broadcast, events, the women’s game and finance.

“Shut out and let down”

A recent survey by fan engagement experts Think Fan Engagement revealed fans ‘feel shut out and let down’ by clubs and governing bodies.

Of the fans polled in that survey, 93% agreed that all fans should be formally consulted by the RFL.

In response to the survey, the RFL said that they hadn’t been asked to be involved or offered a copy of the results.

A spokesperson said: “As a governing body, we engage and consult with fans (and participants) regularly, we champion the insight internally and it contributes to strategic decision making.

“Examples of this include an annual fans survey, conducted at the end of each season – the 2021 survey will be pushed out in November – which covers a broad range of topics, and consistently receives more than 1,000 responses.

“We also convene groups of fans digitally or in person at our offices and clubs to consult on key subjects – such as Our League, or Strategy – and we survey participants at the end of every playing season for feedback on competitions and their experiences of participating.

“In addition, we are part of a syndicated UK sport wide tracking study to enable us to benchmark feelings towards Rugby League amongst our fans and the UK general population against other sports.

“Finally, we have a customer services team who record and respond to all fan enquiries on a broad range of subjects – match officials, competitions structure ideas, marketing ideas etc.”

Community fees

The RFL are currently wrestling with a fall-out from some areas of the community game about the new membership fee to be rolled out from 2022.

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All players in the community game will have to pay an annual fee to participate.

Despite efforts to justify and educate on the membership fee since it was announced, the RFL continues to receive criticism for the move.

Some hard-working volunteers within the community game says the increase in costs will force people away from the sport.