Five rugby league issues to sort in 2023 including domestic game, CEO spot and TV deal

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josie andrews
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Five rugby league issues to sort in 2023 including domestic game, CEO spot and TV deal

Post by josie andrews »

2023 is a crucial year for rugby league as IMG look to stamp their mark on the sport.

The new season is fast approaching but off the field, there are still some huge talking points as the future of rugby league in this country unfolds.

As always, everything comes down to money - it’s money the game is crying out for, both money to sustain and money to grow, but how does rugby league get it? Here, Hull Live picks out five pressing issues for the game to sort out in 2023.

The growth of Super League

You could probably hear the sighs from the Super League boardrooms when the NRL announced yet another salary cap extension this week. In essence, it’s two different worlds but still the big question now is how Super League respond. It’s getting harder and harder for clubs to first retain current players and also to attract new ones. It’s a huge worry as Will Pryce and Kai Pearce-Paul’s upcoming moves to Newcastle Knights testify.

Ultimately, the gap between the two caps must be closed and the only way to do that is by ensuring that Super League becomes more commercially appealing. It needs to bring in more money through sponsors and investment, we all know that, but it needs to sort its own house out first to get both.

Super League is a fantastic competition and it needs to sell itself. It needs to pick a structure and stick to it, decide what its branding will look like, what its criteria will be for graded clubs and what it does in terms of promotion and relegation.

It has to do what’s appealing to sponsors and investors, and not necessarily what has always been tradition. It’s got to think fast, be bold and brave, but ultimately move forward and grow. Its future, particularly its sustainable future with quality players and a bigger cap, depends on it.

Get a new and improved TV deal

This one is essential for the future and make up of the Super League competition but also the wider professional game. The last TV deal was a shocker, significantly reduced and thus less central funding for all UK clubs. The negotiations this time need to be much better. That’s obvious.

Getting more income is essential and the game must look at numerous options who offer value and exposure. The pandemic is over now and there's an outstanding product to pitch. The new broadcast deal has to reflect that - rugby league can’t afford to sell itself short again.

Sort out the CEO situation

Ralph Rimmer has left his position as the Rugby Football League’s CEO with Tony Sutton stepping in on an interim basis. The key word there being interim. That needs to change as soon as possible with a permanent appointment made to drive rugby league in this country forward as a realigned entity.

Sutton, a former director at Hull FC, has already hinted his desire for the CEO role on a permanent basis, but who else is in the frame? Can Sutton use this time to build his case? He has a great reputation and is well-liked. Can he do enough now to secure the gig? Given the importance of this appointment, that’s something those at the RFL need to work out pretty quickly.

Ensure a proper international calendar

New Zealand had a reported interest to fly over again for a test series against England at the end of this year. Now that’s not happening with England’s only scheduled game for 2023 to date being a mid-season meeting with France. On the back of a home Rugby League World Cup, that’s not good enough.

The international calendar always seems to be so last minute and cobbled together, especially when compared to other sports like cricket, rugby union etc who have tests announced up to a year in advance. It’s all the more frustrating because the international game is how you grow; just look at the union code.

England’s fixtures for 2023 should already be signed off and if in this country, then tickets should already be made for purchase. A European Championship for the Knights with the likes of Ireland, Scotland, Wales etc will not suffice. More is needed and quickly.

Grow the Wheelchair and Women’s games

If rugby league is only fixated on the Men’s game then it's missing potential revenue. Some of the best moments of the entire Rugby League World Cup were in the Wheelchair and Women’s tournaments. There’s huge potential in both - in fact, the Wheelchair final was perhaps the best of the lot.

To be fair, both domestic leagues have made great progress in recent years with exposure levels beyond their wildest dreams, and whilst credit goes to the people who have made that happen, what’s next? How do both the Wheelchair and Women’s Super League competitions move forward? They both add to all of the above and they are leverage to the conversation. Sell them.

https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/sport/r ... rt-7997156
Anyone can support a team when it is winning, that takes no courage.
But to stand behind a team, to defend a team when it is down and really needs you,
that takes a lot of courage. #18thMan
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