Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Keego on…budgets, business, sport and Wales v Keego

by Keego

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The plan for this week was to go over the opening weekend of the Guinness Pro 12. To review each of the Irish provinces performance and see if it indicates anything for how the season is to go.

And then Twitter raised its head, a bit of banter between all of Wales and your humble sports correspondent ensued and continued for far too long.

It all started with a Welsh supporter complaining about people complaining about lack of attendance at their club games. I replied with : “…if it is worth seeing then people will attend”. This set off a sometimes heated debate where names were thrown but that’s for another day.

My point of view is that the team itself is the nucleus of improved budgets etc. Money follows attendance which would improve based on what is on the pitch. The Welsh tweeters where saying that it is budget first and then the results will follow. I understand that the IRFU  funding for the clubs is fairly healthy and for the most part the results have followed. But, with nothing to scream about on the pitch, there isn’t much change of sponsorship.

Taking Leinster as the example, whilst generously funded, the attendance wasn’t always at RDS capacity range. Through a mixture of a style of rugby along with results it lead to a full stadium for the most of the last decade. There has been a mixture of academy players all the way up to Rocky Elsom and the great Brad Thorn in the blue jersey over the years. The latter being pointed out as a budget winning the cup argument.

2 things to say to that. If Brad Thorn is available, would you not want him in your team? If he went to Cardiff instead of Leinster it would not be an argument.

Yes funding is important, but it’s not the whole story.

I only compare Welsh rugby to Leinster because I am a blue and I was talking to a Welsh reporter from Wales online. He pointed to Ospreys as his key example. They had money and players along with results and near full stadiums. This is correct, but they also played exciting rugby that people enjoyed watching. No Welsh club team has tried this. I would suggest if you put academy players in the Ospreys team playing that way, there would still be people in the stadium watching.

It is all about what happens on the pitch.

Yes funding is important, but it’s not the whole story.

If you were a business, would you get involved with a team that attracts 300 people to a home game? Absolutely not and this is where I feel the pitch is where the business is. Leinster became consistent, which lead to further endorsements. The IRFU funding remained fairly constant but the marketing budget increased through sponsorship and the word got out that something special was happening on the pitch when the team played. This lead to full stadia and a travelling support that rivals any in the world. Without the rugby on the pitch none of that happens.

In closing, I feel you need both to succeed but you can’t have sponsorship money, if you do not have anything worth sponsoring.

Yes funding is important, but it’s not the whole story.

As usual @nkeegan for debate, discussion and derision.

Keego (@nkeegan): Blogger, professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.

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