WIGAN have just returned from a warm-weather training camp in Florida.
Season ticket sales are going well, merchandise is flying out ahead of Christmas, and it looks like their house is very much in order.
How depressing that the same can’t be said about the sport as a whole.
The Warriors open their new season against Salford in little more than six weeks. But last night, at a meeting with fans, Reds chairman John Wilkinson was unable to offer any strong assurances that the financially-crippled club will be able to start the new season.
“We want to start the new season – I will be disappointed if we don’t,” he said. Salford have found themselves in trouble after failing to hit the 8,000 average attendance needed to break even in 2012.
You don’t need a business brain like Lord Alan Sugar to see that target was closer to impossible than optimistic, and now the staff at Salford – including a handful of Wiganers – have been sorely let down by those above them as they wait to find out if their club will follow Crusaders, Wakefield and Bradford in entering administration.
Sadly, the game’s troubles aren’t isolated to Salford. The new season is nearly upon us, and still we don’t have a title sponsor.
Would it be mischievous to suggest companies are reluctant to part with hundreds of thousands of pounds, when the last sponsors – Stobart – were handed it for free? The Championship clubs are still waiting to discover if they have a sponsor, too.
And last night, I received a press release from the game’s governing body headlined: “RFL receive £17.5million from Sport England.”
If it sounds positive, it definitely isn’t. The 300-word statement includes quotes about the game’s “growth target” and “key objectives”, but nowhere did it mention that the amount is £10m LESS than the payment for the previous four years. I guess that bit mysteriously got overlooked.
So I checked all the other sports which receive funding – yep, all 45 of them – and found none of them have suffered such a savage cut. Many were handed increases.
Now, netball and even badminton get more Sport England funding than rugby league.
I hate to be so miserable, especially at this time of year. But I’m tired of the players, coaches, the few well-run clubs and the fans of such a great sport continually being let down by those in charge.
LATICS bring down the curtain on their home programme for 2012 this weekend when Arsenal visit the DW.
The Gunners have been hit and miss so far this term, but proved during their big win at Reading last night they are still capable of hitting the heights.
Latics are doing it tough at the minute, with James McCarthy and Adrian Lopez the latest additions to the queue outside the treatment room.
The unprecedented casualty list has contributed to
Latics slipping into the bottom three ahead of the festive programme, but now is not the time to be feeling sorry for themselves.
Latics have proved in the past they are capable of mixing it with the big boys – and they must go out this weekend with the belief that another famous scalp is on the cards.
With the game kicking-off at lunchtime, it’s the ideal opportunity for Wigan to put some pressure on their rivals, and lift themselves out of the drop zone ahead of the 3pm starts. The Sky cameras will be in town for the occasion – and we all know what happened the last time they televised Latics-Arsenal on Wigan soil...
CONGRATULATIONS to Bradley Wiggins on Sunday’s award.
He not only ticked the boxes on sporting achievement, but good to have a winner live up to the ‘personality’ tag, too.
I’LL deliver my favourite quotes of the year in next week’s ‘review’, but here’s a late contender.
Kris Radlinski, the Warriors’ rugby manager, was with the players at an American Football game last week when prop Dom Crosby asked him: “Radders, who many quarters are there in an NFL game?”