Super League: Bradford and London must put plans in place quickly following relegation
Last Updated: 23/07/14 1:09pm
Bradford Bulls: Now know they will be playing in the Championship next season
So now we know. Bradford’s defeat to Huddersfield confirmed that the Bulls will be joining London Broncos in dropping down to the Championship next season. No ifs, no buts (and there'll be no further mention of those in this blog).
I have extremely strong ties with the Broncos, and it has been sad to see such a rapid demise. Admittedly we didn’t have a great deal to sing about over the last five years I was there, but there wasn’t the threat of relegation hanging over our heads then.
"It’s always sad to see clubs go down, but sometimes it can be a blessed relief. I was in the post office earlier this week and one of the employees was a Bradford fan – she admitted it was nice that the anxiety of worrying about relegation was finally over. Now they finally know."
To get to this point so rapidly is sad to see, but we’ve seen it coming all season long. With each week that they didn’t manage a win it became more and more inevitable that they’d finish in the bottom two.
The consistent instability at London has to be a concern. There has not been 15-20,000 people coming down to watch their games so it is going to be a case of someone digging into their own pockets to help out. But hopefully they’ve got a good plan in place, because I have a huge love for the place and wouldn’t ever want to see it in a situation where it couldn’t fight back.
With Bradford it has been slightly different due to their six-point deduction for going into administration.
It’s always sad to see clubs go down, but sometimes it can be a blessed relief. I was in the post office earlier this week and one of the employees was a Bradford fan – she admitted it was nice that the anxiety of worrying about relegation was finally over. Now they finally know.
Huddersfield have spoken about how being relegated was actually a good thing for them. They went down, cleared out and put together a clear plan of action. They put in place a structure not just for instant success a level down but also for the long term.
That is obviously hard for both players and fans to hear at London and Bradford, but at least they are still playing. In recent times there had been a danger with both the Broncos and the Bulls that they wouldn’t even be doing that.
Now, though, they need to move on quickly and make plans. The positive is that they know their fate well in advance – it is not the final weekend of the season when they have been relegated, they have the remaining rounds to shape their squad, decide who will stay and who to sign.
They have both faced hard times this year, which must have been emotionally draining for all involved. That’s from the players to the fans, from the backroom staff to boardroom level.
There is good money in the Championship now, plus the new system will have more teams promoted. It’s not a case of fighting out for one promotion spot. It is vital that the gap is closed between Super League and the tier below. With the top four being so important in the second tier next season, you’d like to assume that it would.
Because it has been decided so early, playing against those two teams could be slightly odd.
How will coaches approach games against opponents that are already down at such a crucial stage of the season - are they obliged to put their full-strength teams out? Could they instead rest their entire first-team squad, instead putting out an academy side if they decide there’s little for them to gain from risking their frontline players?
As a player, if you turned out against an already relegated opponent the week before a Challenge Cup semi-final and picked up a knock that ruled you out of such a big game, you’d be devastated.
Obviously points for and against could be crucial in the final reckoning in deciding places in the top eight, too. How those playoff-bound teams approach these fixtures in future will be interesting to see. The same can be said for the Bulls and Broncos, as they will have players in their ranks they already know will not be part of their future beyond 2014.
Doctor in Dubai
And to finish, Dr Marwan Koukash is pushing forward with plans to stage a Nines tournament in Dubai that will involve Super League clubs.
Anything that is going to expand and evolve the popularity of rugby league - I’m all for it. We saw what the NRL Nines achieved earlier this year, the excitement it generated. It didn’t detract from the major competition, if anything actually it added to it. Some of my family travelled to New Zealand to watch, it clearly caught the imagination of the people.
If Super League could get on board with that in Dubai it would be great. Anything that can make the sport more popular and help get it the recognition it deserves.
Good luck to the doctor. I’m willing to champion that cause if he needs me.