British Rugby League's major problem is not enough people get paid
21 November 2018 - Written by Zack Wilson
British rugby league has a major issue.
That issue is that too many people who work in the sport too often do not get paid what they are owed.
People in every sector of the sport - coaching, playing, media, administration – work for free when they should be getting paid.
Indeed, many of them make the mistake of thinking that they are in paid employment, when in fact they are doing their work for nothing.
Too many people are taken advantage of by inadequate, low-calibre business people in every sector of our game, something that should be considered by many social media loud mouths.
Former Keighley Cougars coach Craig Lingard is owed over five months’ worth of wages, and he resigned earlier this month.
Players and staff are owed money, consisting of wages and bonuses, going back to August.
"It has been one thing after another, there is always an excuse why the money has not gone in. It came to a point when I couldn't take it anymore,” Lingard told the Bradford Telegraph & Argus.
"There is nobody there to run the team now."
Keighley Cougars players have also been taking to social media to reveal their plight.
They have complained that the club does not seem to take their issue seriously enough, with patronising blandishments being delivered to them rather than the cash they are owed.
Cougars winger Alfie Seely, currently plying his trade for Keighley RUFC, revealed some of his frustration to the Keighley News earlier this week.
“The RFL have said that they (Cougars) have until Tuesday to pay us,” he said.
“I am owed money by the Cougars for the last two matches of the season in September, and they have been saying every week for weeks that they will pay us, and in the last week they have been saying every day that they will pay us.
“I still want to play for Cougars but we should have started pre-season training last Thursday.
“I have been training on my own for six weeks, but there is only so much that you can do yourself.”
Ritchie Hawkyard, who signed for Oldham recently, is owed around £2000 in unpaid wages and bonuses by the Cougars.
"They are trying to fob us off. It is stressing everyone out," he said.
"I had to borrow spending money off my mum for my holiday last month.
"For the lads who are students and playing for the Cougars, this is their only income.
"Where do we go from here?
"I was there for three years. People at the club keep saying we will be paid. It's been going on for months now."
We have also had the disgusting spectacle of Leigh owner Derek Beaumont implying that players who want their contracts honoured as causing his club financial problems.
Of course, he ignores the fact that he negotiated those contracts in the first place.
It is not just players who do not get paid either.
There are far too many stories that you hear about media outlets not paying people for work they have done.
Many of them are true.
Personally speaking, I am still owed five figures for work done over two years ago for a major UK rugby league website.
Other former colleagues were owed much more money than me too, with wages being unpaid for months.
This wasn’t casual work either, but was supposed to be a regular job.
The website is still going, but only because the people to whom it owes money kept it going two years ago.
As is common in rugby league, our thanks was to be not paid the wages that had been agreed.
This situation leads to poor journalism too. Every rugby league journalist knows that their career hangs by a thread, that the chance of losing their job or not being paid for their work is high in this sport.
So sycophancy is rife, caution is king and no one wants to challenge the status quo. Stagnation kicks in.
Once stagnation is locked into the media, it brings everything else down, with promotion of the game being the first victim.
Check out the RFL website for the promotion of the New Zealand Test series to see what I mean.
Awful videos of Kiwis ‘amusingly’ trying to pronounce local dialects do not cut it at all when it comes to promoting the game.
If rugby league wants to be taken seriously as a professional sport in the UK it needs to be properly professional.
As things stand, we do not have a sufficiently high calibre of business person in the game to be properly professional.
There are too many dabblers, Walter Mitty types, and egoists who fasten onto a small sport to boost their own profile.
If we want to grow, we need money. To generate money, we need proper entrepreneurs who conduct their business in the right way.
As things stand, attracting those people to UK rugby league is possibly a demand too far.