Some thoughts and opinions on finances and crowd sizes in the Aviva Premiership.
It’s the LAW
Brian Moore said an interesting thing in his radio show this week. Rugby has laws not rules by which it is played. I thought that is a nice distinction and helps to set the tone for the sport, laws are to be obeyed where are rules are to be bent.
Money Money Money
The salary cap is to be increased and a second marque player is going to be allowed, but this time he has to come from outside the Premiership. Both Brian Moore and Sir Ian McGeechan have raised their concerns about the have and have nots and the impact on England qualified players. So I’m not going over that again. The point I’d like to add is that with only one-third or 4 out of 12 Premiership teams make a profit. In other words 8 are run at a loss, how sustainable is this? Shouldn’t some of the extra money that is coming in from the BT deal go towards stopping clubs from making a loss and not going straight out the door in salaries?
The Premiership made a big deal about attendance being up over the first 2 rounds. First up it’s right that they are making a noise about positive things, this kind of stuff in the media will catch the eye of some people and maybe they will come to some games.
But let’s have a quick look at some of the numbers. Attendance over the first 2 rounds was 170,599 and average of 14,217. How ever 66,164 were at Twickenham for the London Double Header. That leaves 104,435 for the remaining 10 games an average of 10,444 (easy calculation that one). That is actually higher than I was expecting and with a ground requirement of 10,000 sounds quite healthy. The problem is when you start looking at some of the details:
Sale v Bath 5,353 Welsh v Exeter 2,776 Newcastle v Irish 5,888 Wasps v Saints 6,374 Round 3 Irish v Saracens 6,665 Sale v Welsh 4,953 Newcastle v Saints 5,057 Note - Saracens have not played at home yet
I have cheated and taken some attendance numbers from round 3. But you have to wonder how these clubs can survive on such small gates. Clearly not everything is as healthy as the news release would have you think.
With all these teams but especially Irish, there is plenty of space for them to fill if they can come up with creative ways to get people through the turnstiles. This also applies to Exeter to a lesser extent who had over 2 thousand empty spaces against Leicester.
Here is my innovative idea to increase attendance in a long term way. I suggest that clubs partner up with schools and offer to provide PE teachers. The deal would be that they would teach a rugby themed, not exclusive, program for free. The kids would be offered a free season ticket with an adult purchased season ticket.
The idea is that:
- Families get used to the weekend quality time at the rugby which they keep on doing throughout life.
- Clubs become more integrated in their communities
- It could provide careers for academy players who don’t make it as professional players.
Clearly there is a cost to hiring 5 or so PE teachers by each club. I’d have thought that companies such as Land Rover would be interested in sponsoring a project like this. Also if recently graduated PE teachers were recruited then it shouldn’t cost too much especially when you hear talk of all this extra BT money.
So there is my innovative idea on upping attendance at games. On a side note the one-off games at Wembley and Twickenham do really mess up the attendance table. They are a good thing in that they do draw people to the games that wouldn’t normally go and hopefully they enjoy the experience and start going. Also as they do turn a profit are helpful to the clubs especially as none of the clubs that host these games are reputed to make a profit.