Rugby League Expert & Columnist
Brian Carney: Money focus must remain at the top for the good of the game
Last Updated: 18/06/18 11:06pm
The controversy over how best to spend money to promote rugby league rumbles on but Brian Carney believes for the good of the game, the focus needs to be re-fixed on the core product...
Competition format is not the issue. Argue about Super 8s, one-up and two-down or licensing all you want, but you will be missing the point.
The biggest change occurred when Super League Clubs voted 11-1 in favour of a new governance of their grouping.
So, they want to control all the money they earn and how it's spent. This doesn't seem like an unfair request? You might even criticise them for allowing the situation to occur where they didn't have the control of those resources, or for not doing something about it earlier!
In 2013, efforts were made by some Super League clubs but thwarted by a lack of support.
The format will probably change - and on who's terms remains to be seen but my money is on the top division - but change of more than just rugby league's competition structure is coming and I for one, welcome it.
One side swears it's not a breakaway and the other side swears it is, but let me tell you this, the move does represent a break from the status quo.
Because in the minds of the men who have poured millions into rugby league the status quo could not continue and I agree with them.
What they want is to reset the focus of limited financial and personnel resources.
They feel this more concentrated approach is what is needed to reinvigorate the game at national and international level in the interest of protecting this great sport of ours.
The argument against this move by the Super League clubs is driven by the belief that the narrower focus will only serve to shore up Super League clubs financially and to hell with the rest.
That's all Super League is interested in they say, and that elite owners don't care for the lower divisions.
I don't buy this. Super League owners are saying: 'We are going to shake up Super League by spending money promoting Super League and it's stars.
'We are going to spend money on Super League that will bring more national media attention and following that, more commercial revenue.'
Personally, I'm confident if they achieve this, all divisions will benefit.
Development officers working tirelessly all over this island will benefit greatly when Kallum Watkins is as well known as Owen Farrell in rugby union.
The great work that Halifax and Hemel players do in schools in their locality will be made easier when kids want to be like Luke Gale or Jake Connor.
Kids in tennis or golf clubs aren't inspired as much by the club pro as they are by Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Rickie Fowler or Rory McIlroy. A bigger, better and brighter Super League will throw a far more lasting light on the Championship and League 1 clubs than is currently the case.
I believe a rising tide lifts all boats and I know the tide has now turned.
People might be looking at the last decade through rose-tinted glasses but it was a decade in which the profile of the game declined.
I agree with the argument that the focus was allowed to fall away from the elite level and that this has been damaging.
This is why, overwhelmingly, elite clubs have asked to take charge again of the money and to apply a refocus on where it's best spent.
Sometimes you need a seismic event to get the change that is needed and our game does need change. I now believe the vast majority of Super League clubs have seen the light and if this money is diverted into wages and mis-spent it will be unforgivable.
But if the money is spent well on a concerted promotional effort then rugby league as a whole will benefit through the Super League vehicle.
Before you criticise this position ask yourself this - where were we headed as a game? I'll argue that it was in the wrong direction and I applaud the decision to change and believe that when the dust settles the winner will be a better rugby league product, from the top down.