The RFL have today revealed summaries of the licence applications of the 17 clubs that applied for a licence to the Super League for the 2012-2014 seasons.
Bradford Bulls provided a solid submission detailing a strategy, tactical plan and targets to achieve improved commercial and financial performance. The club has a solid fan base, a strong brand and good operating structure/governance in place. However the club faces some challenges. These include the local economic environment, poor recent on-field performance and an ageing facility. The application acknowledges these challenges; however the club believes that its business plan for the next three years will move it to a position of sustainability with good prospects for further growth. The club has invested heavily in its youth performance programme in recent years, and it is expected that the club will soon start to reap the rewards of this investment with improved performances and increased numbers of quality club-trained players. Grade B.
Castleford Tigers provided a well presented and authored application, detailing realistic, intelligent and achievable strategies for future commercial and supporter growth. However the strategies and targets are to a degree based upon the move to a new facility in 2013. At present Castleford are a well-run, sustainable club that lives within its means and produces above average numbers of Super League quality players. Whilst hamstrung by an inadequate facility, and the restrictions on commercial revenues and supporter base this causes, the club makes a good contribution to the Super League. Significant growth of the business is reliant upon the club moving to the proposed new stadium to enable further investment in management, first team squad and player production. The significant challenge for the club in the next Licence period will be to move to the proposed new facility. Grade C.
Catalan Dragons provided a well presented submission that confirmed they are a club with a clear vision on how to develop their commercial business, successfully market to their local and regional audience, increase profile and increase attendances. By the end of the current Licence period they will have redeveloped their facility, significantly increased turnover and improved their player development system. The club’s governance model is very strong, and it has aggressive plans to grow turnover in the coming years. Whilst Catalan faces some challenges over the next Licence period, the club is on a solid footing to meet them and has a sound strategy for continuing the development of recent years. Grade B.
Halifax RLFC submitted an application with insufficient detail in their marketing, media or commercial plans. The club business plan was inadequate, figures presented by the club as the budget and performance forecasts for the 2012-14 Licence period were speculative and the club did not provide sufficient information for KPMG to complete their assessment procedures. Whilst the club has an excellent community program, a good facility and has recently strengthened its Board and player performance system, the club fell below the standards expected of a Super League club. Grade C.
Harlequins RL provided a submission with a strong overview of the club’s position, strategy and targets. The club faces a number of challenges, including location and brand but is developing detailed plans to meet these challenges and grow attendances, profile and revenues. Harlequins’ player production system is also realising genuine results with a number of club-trained players in its first team squad. Its current facility is excellent and the community programme continues to develop. Whilst the club remains dependent on the financial support of its Chairman, Harlequins broaden the impact of the Super League beyond the traditional heartlands and continue to develop Rugby League in a strategically significant area. Grade C.
Huddersfield Giants current Licence period has seen significant improvement in on-field performances, production of British-based players and attendances. The club has an excellent facility, good governance, finished in the Top 4 in 2009 and 2010, provided six players to the England team at the 2010 Four Nations and has the objective to become the best Super League club in Yorkshire. Whilst Huddersfield acknowledge the continued support of Ken Davy to operate at their current level, the application contained a strong plan for the club to reduce this reliance by growing other revenues during the next Licence period. Grade B.
Hull FC provided a comprehensive and detailed submission. The club exceeded the criteria in the commercial, marketing, media and community; facility; finance and governance and business management sections. Hull FC has a sound financial position, reasonable performance in the Super League during this Licence period and a good youth performance programme. The club has a clear and detailed business plan from which continued commercial growth can be expected. With their facilities, clear vision, stability, staff structure and strong presence within their community, Hull FC are undoubtedly one of the top clubs in Super League. Grade A.
Hull KR’s application contained a solid plan to develop the club’s commercial position in the short and medium term. The club already has impressive levels of commercial revenue and attendances within the limitations of its home ground, with good community interaction and an improving player development system. The club is incrementally developing its stadium which should further increase attendances and commercial revenues, in addition to enhancing community activities at the club. At present Hull KR benefit from director investment to operate at the level that it does but the club has a sound business plan. With the recent strengthening of its management and commercial staff, in addition to facility improvement, the club is likely to continue growing during the next Licence period. Grade B.
Leeds Rhinos provided an excellent submission with a detailed business plan supported by realistic objectives, budgets and plans. The club has very good facilities, links to the community and a high media profile. Leeds consistently trade at a profit, are in a strong net asset position and have exciting plans to generate additional revenue over the Licensing period. The club has an outstanding Board and Management structure, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities for staff. Leeds have achieved on-field success in Engage Super League during this Licensing period, and continue to produce a number of international standard players through its player development system. Grade A.
Salford City Reds consider that a move to a new facility is essential is essential to further develop their business and solve the current problems of reduced revenue, poor on field performance and low attendances. The RFL is satisfied that this new stadium will be completed for the start of the 2012 Super League season. The club has set itself ambitious performance targets in the new stadium which are based upon solid commercial, marketing, and media plans in what will be an excellent facility. It will be essential that the club significantly increases its current attendances and commercial position at its new home in order to invest further in its playing squad and player development programme. Grade C.
St Helens’ submission was outstanding and clearly outlined the plans in place to make the most of the move to a new facility in 2012. The club considers that its crowds, commercial revenues and financial position have suffered as a result of the age and limitations of its Knowsley Road base; however the move to a new facility has significant potential to allow the club to increase revenues, crowds and profile. The club has good governance and business management systems, and on-field performance during this current Licence period has been excellent, with the club finishing in Grand Finals in 2009 and 2010. St Helens are also a consistent supplier of players to the England national team, and their production of high quality young players is exceptional. Grade B.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ application confirmed that new ownership has injected enthusiasm, capital and business acumen into the club. The business plan provided achievable targets for growing the business, and a realistic strategy to reach these targets. Wakefield’s performance on the field and player supply across the current Licence period has been acceptable and their community programme is excellent. However commercial, financial and governance performance in this Licence period has been poor, with the club entering administration in February of 2011. The club continues to face a number of challenges. The stadium position is uncertain, and the significant challenge for the club will be to deliver the commercial and supporter growth required to allow the club to trade in a sustainable manner whilst improving competitiveness on the pitch. Grade C.
Warrington Wolves have an excellent Board and Management structure and have started to achieve consistent on-field success. The club has commenced producing a steady stream of Super League and International quality players from its own development programme. Warrington Wolves submitted an application that confirmed their intention to enhance their status as a foundation stone of their community, continue to improve their attendances, increase capacity at The Halliwell Jones Stadium for the 2012 season and reap the commercial rewards. The club is in a strong net asset position, has grown its business rapidly in the last Licence period and has exciting plans to generate additional income. Grade A.
Widnes Vikings provided a detailed application containing marketing, management, financial and operational plans to ensure the club would make a significant contribution to the Super League if granted a Licence. The crowd, commercial and sponsorship targets set out in the application are ambitious; however with further staff additions to complement the talented staff currently in post and a measure of on-field success, the targets are achievable. Widnes’s current stadium and plans for a new training facility show the club has developed, and continues to develop, a high quality infrastructure. Widnes have committed to a full Super League player pathway, currently operates an accredited Academy and Scholarship and engages closely with Service Area Programmes and training groups for talented young players. Grade C.
Wigan Warriors, as the reigning Super League champions, playing in an outstanding stadium and with the current highest average attendance in the Super League competition are one of the top clubs in Super League. Over the course of the last Licensing period the club has significantly improved its on-field performance and continues to develop a steady stream of Super League and international-quality club trained players. Wigan have a strong board and management team that have moved the club from a business making significant annual losses to a position of profitability. The club has a very strong business plan to continue this growth during the next Licence period, through further increases in attendances and commercial revenues. Grade A.
Summaries are not available for Barrow Raiders, who did not meet the required criteria, or Crusaders, who withdrew their application.