Memorandum submitted by Wakefield Rugby
Football Club Limited
1.1 This memorandum has been prepared in
response to Press Notice No. 16 of Session 1998-99 dated 11 May
1.2 Wakefield RFC is a member of the Rugby
Football Union ("RFU") and currently competes in the
Allied Dunbar PremiershipDivision 2, and accordingly is
a member of English Second Division Rugby ("ESDR").
English Second Division Rugby Ltd ("ESDR")
is the representative body of the member clubs of the Rugby Football
Union which participates in the Allied Dunbar Premiership Division
2. ESDR has two representatives on the Board of English Rugby
Premiership ("ERP") and one representative on the council
of the Rugby Football Union ("RFU").
1.3 Brief Description of Wakefield RFC
Wakefield has been playing rugby for 98 years
and currently organises amateur rugby at all levels from aged
15 upwards. The 1st XV squad, however, are a mixture of professional
and semi-professionals who are rewarded by way of a combination
of some or all of the following:
2. OVERVIEW OF
2.1 Professional Rugby Union. A sport that
people are compelled to watch.
2.2 Quality of Games. Equal sides playing
at the top level. High level of skill and professionalism.
2.3 Supported by Public. Good crowd attendance,
good quality stadium with car parking, access, catering etc.
2.4 Watched by TV Viewers. Available for
committed fans and casual viewers.
2.5 Strong Corporate Support. Facilities
for corporate hospitality and professionally organised.
2.6 Which Competitions Fit the Bill. World
Cup, 6 Nations Rugby, European Cup, Allied Dunbar Premiership.
Wakefield RFC are willing to submit their accounts
for the last two years on request.
3.1 It is generally accepted that professional
Rugby Union at club level is not sustainable at present levels
without the support of one or more of the following:
the allocation of nationally negotiated
deep pocketed investors who seek
to secure a franchise for the future professional game;
individual emotional investors; and
3.2 Wakefield RFC has since the advent of
professional rugby made cumulative operating losses of approximately
3.3 The principal reason for the unsatisfactory
present state of affairs arises from a number of factors, including:
(a) the desire of individual clubs to survive
at elite level until there is a more realistic structure for professional
(b) player aspirations to maximise earnings
given their short playing life;
(c) administrative and financial chaos within
and between the governing bodies in the United Kingdom;
(d) with few exceptions, unattractive and
outmoded grounds and stadia; and
(e) management infrastructure.
3.4 Star playersshould not be dual
paid for international duties, have right of release and club
compensation package in case of injury etc. "Fair deal for
Player salaries cap suggest 50 per cent of previous
season's income. Need to establish a clear criteria.
3.5 The main point here, surely is that
until there is a stable working relationship between and within
the unions, sponsorship cannot be exploited to the full. No commercial
sponsor wants to be seen to be involved in failure or to have
his marketing opportunity changed or restricted by events or bodies
outside their sphere of influence.
4.1 Wakefield RFC have excellent relationships
with Super League Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, in fact we have
a non-trading agreement with them to develop a new stadia on the
outskirts of Wakefield. Learn the lessons from Super League that
overpaid players ruin the market. In our area players, spectators
and commercial sponsors all have options between the codes.
5.1 Both Wakefield RFC and Wakefield Trinity
Wildcats have urgent need to improve facilities.
5.2 We refute the viability of using soccer
stadia restricted dead ball areas, danger of narrow touch
line areas, but very valid example McAlpine Stadium housing RL
and soccer also Rugby Union one off matches and World Cup. Also
more pitch hours due to surface development gives more opportunities
to play mid week evenings. Popular for spectators and sponsors.
5.3 We suggest the establishment of a national
network of small (say up to 8,000 capacity) modern facilities
for multi-sporting occasions, including rugby.
6.1 We deplore the discouragement of contact
sports in schools and the benefits of team activities and social
tolerance that comes from rugby.
6.2 We recently entered into an agreement
with Sportsmatch/Trackwork funding of professional rugby coaching
into local schools.
6.3 We as a club are developing coaching
of junior and youth sides.
6.4 Governing bodies should fund development
officers and academies directly through Premiership clubs Divisions
1 and 2.
6.5 The need for professional clubs to be
involved in the whole life cycle of rugby and not distance itself;
otherwise there will be no succession. Funding from RFU to go
to duties that meet their criteria, ie develop ground facilities
and investment. One of the biggest tasks ahead of us is to increase
participation at all levels, eg Touch Rugby Competitions. Leagues
to create the structure for players and clubs to reach the highest
6.6 The need for transparency and continuity
between all levels of rugby. Suggest revamp completely development
and academy rugby to have defined age groups.
7. OTHER INTERESTS
7.1 We do not know how a Super League franchise
system works but it should not be ruled out for a professional
game at the top level although it may be viewed as a closed shop
to increase the level of investment in the game, there may need
to be considerable safeguards put in place to justify the investment
in facilities and management structure.