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ANDREW CHALMERS: IT'S SHOWTIME - BATTER UP

3rd August 2018, 13:05

ANDREW CHALMERS: IT'S SHOWTIME - BATTER UP

Read Chairman, Andrew Chalmers' column in the Bulls Bulletin, in partnership with the Bradford Telegraph and Argus.

I enjoyed tuning into last Thursday evenings Sky telecast to hear some strong opinions from Brian Carney and guests on all manner of things, but most noticeably the state of international rugby league. Now Carney, we should recognise has strong opinions and is an out and out players man, believing the players are not listened to enough, are under-represented and that everything the NRL does is great.

The international discussion centred upon whether the clubs had been or should been consulted regarding proposed changes in the international calendar and also changes to the governance structure. Well let me declare that the Bradford Bulls had not been consulted on these changes and nor did I expect that to be the case. Frankly I have enough on pursuing our own clubs objectives, and running this club let alone go seeking to control or disrupt the international game.

It is a bit like the Chairman of Sheffield Wednesday being outraged at not having a seat at the table of FIFA. I’m sorry it’s laughable really. You see the problem is some club chairmen are insatiable when it comes to seeking power control and authority, to dictate to the rest of the sport what is in their best interests. A bit like man-eating tigers, who once they have tasted human blood can never be trusted again.

I sat on the International Board for several years as the New Zealand representative and I know very clearly how it operated. Australian administrators were despatched to the Board precisely to stop it ever getting anything done. The British representatives were hardly much better, certainly more supportive of the international game but always, one suspected as having their own interests at the forefront of the agenda. And there you have it again. Self-interest dictating the agenda and decision making for the global game.

For New Zealand, we didn’t have a professional domestic league to consider and we were genuinely interested in growing and expanding the international game. And that is why independence in leadership positions is so vital around sport. I believe Super League has gone backwards, massively with the clubs now each providing a director. How can the Super League board be truly trusted to do what is in the sports best interests of the whole game? - well they can’t be left alone – left with the power and decision making to do what they want.

What chance of anything getting done that was against the selfish interests of any of them? Absolutely zero I would say. Independence at the top of the Rugby League cannot be a veneer, or a mirage. The RFL came within a whisker of throwing the sport to the big clubs, in exchange for peace and in the biggest league in the world, the NRL, the clubs frequently bully the so called Independent Commission. If you’re going to hold these independent positions, be prepared to take the hits. As I’ve said before rugby league is a collision sport. On and off the field.

It was therefore very pleasing to see the RLIF decide to appoint three independent directors to counter the control and dominance of the some of the nations. It was even better to see them hold firm against the arrogance of the self-published alternate calendar. Two ticks there. The sport should be ashamed of where international rugby league is positioned and how it has to eek a living off the scraps falling off the rich man’s table.

No wonder rugby union has powered ahead when rugby league club leaders try to dictate the international programme, including threatening not to release players or frustrate an exciting initiative like the Denver game. Anyway that is for others smarter and two feet taller than me to solve. Good Luck.

There was an interesting turn at the RFL AGM last week when the very likeable Wakefield Chairman Michael Carter announced much to the surprise of the assembled gathering, that he would like to buy the Odsal Stadium lease from the RFL. So it finally looks like the club is going to follow through on its continuous game of bluff with Wakefield Council and move out of the city…….I don’t think so! Quite why Carter didn’t or doesn’t use his resources to actually buy Belle Vue, which has been for sale for much of the past five years, is a bit of a mystery. I’m sure the Wakey supporters are asking the same question right now. It became even more surreal why the Hull KR Chairman Neil Hudgell piled in and said he wanted to buy it as well. I have to say, I just about swallowed my bacon buttie whole.

I’m not sure what was going on and precisely what I’ve have done to these boys, except to say I don’t think I’ll ever be given a key to the Super League wash room – when we ultimately fight our way to the top table. Seems I have irritated them again, perhaps to the point of implosion. Hudgo seems to enjoy having a crack at me or more specifically our club at virtually every meeting I have ever attended when he has been there. Maybe it is because deep, deep down he knows that the Bradford Bulls have been a bigger club and that one day they will rise again, unless some “with vested interest” get their own way. Better for all of us at the Bulls to have our eyes wide open. And for the avoidance of any doubt Mikey, I have no interest in buying and developing Belle Vue! Not so sure about Hudgo.

It is also interesting to see a flurry of transfer activity last week with the Leigh squad cast far and wide. Two points worth raising here. I hope the salary cap manager is across the lot, and for the record I am not accusing anyone! And also what does it say about the 500k parachute payment made to Leigh unilaterally last year by the brains trust at Super League HQ. The brain wave has been repeated by Mr Lenagan & co, in the plain stupid and pathetically unambitious plan set out at the recent Super League press conference. Not exactly money well spent.

The sum of these decisions which in reality is enough to fund 1000 developments officers and coach’s annually around the regions, which could have generated significant long term benefits for supporting schools and supporting amateur clubs and genuine grass roots development. Most Boards of Directors have to self-assess their own performance on an annual basis and present their opinion of their own performance. I look forward to the 13 Directors of Super League reporting to the 13 shareholders commending themselves on the a great first year; parachute payment -500k, new CEO -400k, legal costs to bully the RFL -100k, that’s a cool £1M fellas, new income, er hmmmmm, well,….let’s move on to the next agenda item!

I can hear some of the Super League chairman practising their haka right now. Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora! Might be timely to get my body armour out of the cupboard.

Ok Ok. I’ll move on to the Bulls really cool Ultimate 8 campaign. Having dealt to the Londoners, we now turn our focus to our 2nd must win game against forth placed Whitehaven at Odsal Stadium. Visits by these proud Cumbrians have been few and far between. They have been having a difficult time of it of late, and we only just squeezed home in our game recently up at the Recreation Ground.

Both the York City Knights and the Bulls had good victories by wide margins last week and as we get to the end of the back straight, our lead is still intact but that is going to be challenged and potentially nibbled at this weekend. But let me be very clear, we know we cannot afford any kind of slip up. Our goal is to finish in top spot – nothing else will do for the club and the fans.

We’re expecting a warm dry game day on Saturday. I know you will all get behind your Bradford Bulls as we look to fight off Whitehaven. We need all our loyal fans and supporters to please get behind our Ultimate Eight season campaign finale. See you at Odsal Stadium, Saturday 3pm.  #ultimate8 #jointhestampede.