Why do we think Rugby League is immune to financial pressures?

It’s not very often I agree with Sky Sports’ Phil Clarke.

In fact if he and I were to ever meet, sit down and thoroughly discuss rugby league in-depth, I may well be restraining myself as his outburst of verbal diarrhea stings my eardrums like the sound of poorly synchronised dubstep on a Saturday night when the artist is higher than one of Pat Richards’ bomb kicks.

However he said something on Boots ‘n’ all recently which struck a chord with me. It was a feeling similar to when the wife initiated intimacy in the bedroom, for a change. At first I didn’t know what the hell was going on!

But he said that we (the supporters and journalists alike) must get the idea that we are immune to the current economic climate out of our heads.

Almost every professional sports club is losing money, and you only have to look at football to realise that.

Portsmouth, Port Vale, Rangers are all currently in administration. The news that Rangers are in financial trouble is a sign that no team, however big, is immune to the financial pressures of running a professional sports club.

Therefore you have to ask why there is outrage from the fans when everyone is suffering as every company and family tries to tighten their belts.

Sponsors cannot ethically meet the required funds to pay for advertising when they are laying off employees. Families cannot afford to go to matches when they are unemployed, and with the cost of living rising each year it is extremely expensive to take a family of four to a single Super League game these days.

In the height of Bullmania when the team was winning matches and the Bulls made five consecutive Grand Finals, they averaged 13,150 over that five year period.

 Recently since 2008 (noticeably the Bull’s decline and the start of the last recession) they reached an average depth of 8,436 during the 2010 season.

Losing over 4,700 supporters in a short period of time is obviously going to impact upon the club’s finances. And unless Bradford has a thriving suburb similar to Chelsea or Sandringham which I’m unaware of, the northern working class folk aren’t going to be able to afford the cost of a £20 ticket, plus travel, plus beer and a programme every two weeks. The cost mounts up over the long term which puts off fans.

So rather than vent your frustration at the RFL, the Bradford board, the sponsors or even Bullboy; think about Mr Smith who cannot afford to turn down the weekend overtime because he has a mortgage to pay off.

Think about Mrs Jones who (apart from being serenaded by Billy Paul) is bringing up two rugby-mad boys and juggling two part-time jobs to pay for the clothes on their backs.

And finally think about Mr Johnson who, after being a season ticket holder for the past 40 years, was made redundant and has been forced to work in B&Q on a Sunday afternoon, a stones throw from the ground, on minimum wage.

The grim reality is people’s hard earned cash has been spent on living, keeping a job and generally trying to maintain whatever standard of living they had prior to the credit crunch. That means sacrifices have had to be made, and Bullmania has been put out of business. 


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