It’s high time clubs start living within their means

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SOME interesting lessons in financial planning (or lack of it) have made the running in Rugby League in the past week.

One of the high rollers Bradford Bulls ‘gambled’ on success (on the field) but watched the ball drop into the red slot on the wheel.

At the same time staying in the black is Sheffield Eagles who for the second year running turned a profit – okay it’s a small one of £9,852 but they won’t have to put out the begging bowl.

The Eagles face the same cost pressure as any business. Although you are playing a game clubs have to be run as a business and bank managers can be more unforgiving than any prop forward.

Now the Bulls bosses are wringing their hands and asking 500 fans to pledge £100 each by the end of this week to keep the club going.

It comes after the club sold the lease on its Odsal Stadium to the Rugby Football League in January and used the money to pay-off long-term liabilities.

Thanks to the generosity of rugby fans across the game the Bulls are half way to getting the £500,000 they need to slam the door on the Grim Reaper … for now.

That’s sporting economics. Those who isolate themselves behind the boardroom door screw things up then turn to the people who know how to pay their bills to pull them out of the mire. It’s supporters who are being asked to save Bradford – if they do the fans should have a real say in how the club is run in the future.

This right load of Bull for Rugby League comes only months after Crusaders dropped out of the Super League because they couldn’t pay their way.

Bradford and Crusaders are not isolated examples. There are still questions unanswered about the Crusaders and Bradford will add to these.

Less than 12 months ago, Bradford’s Super League licence was renewed. Was there no hint of trouble ahead? Like the captain of the Titanic the bosses of the RFL don’t see icebergs before they hit them.

The suits at the RFL should skip afternoon tea and come and ask Sheffield Eagles how they do it.

There’s no big money from TV deals for the Eagles, they fight hard to bring in the fans.

They’ve combined success on the field with keeping the bank manager happy. The Eagles know that if they hit problems the RFL wouldn’t let the moths out of their cheque book.

FOR some reason big games come together like buses. The defeat by Halifax is followed swiftly by a trip to Featherstone Rovers on Saturday evening.

This is a much stronger Eagles squad than the one that clawed its way to the Grand Final last season. The team can play electrifying attacking rugby but sometimes frustratingly the light dims and they switch off.

Maybe the trip to the Big Fellas Stadium will answer the contender or pretender question. It’ll be worth making the trip to find out.