Rayer’s warning over lack of home games
A LACK of fixtures could cause fans to drift away according to Bedford Blues director of rugby Mike Rayer, writes Mark Wood.
The Blues chief has been left troubled by the changes to next season’s competition that could see a dirth of home matches.
Not only could this hit the Blues in the pocket but he is equally concerned that they must be able to offer their loyal supporters value for money.
Rayer said: “We are not getting any more money from the RFU. We are faced with potentially having one game per month post-Christmas for a couple of the months which is a hell of a burden. I don’t think they see the consequences of having less fixtures.
“The frustrating part is with less games post Christmas the season becomes very punctuated.
“For us in particular, for us to lose two guaranteed home games makes it very awkward for us financially.
“For Bedford Rugby Club and because of the crowds we get and the business we run we need games.
“Do you speculate to accumulate for qualification for the British & Irish Cup?
“You’ve got to live to your means. It’s still not thought through very well. I still think we need one if not two more guarateed home fixtures.”
Rayer was in many ways in favour of all the changes, but admitted he would like to see the division repopulate and resume a 14-team format.
He continued: “I understand the reasons they’ve cut it down to four (play-off places). Top four is going to be a tough target. I’m not a big fan of the eight-team play-off but something needs to happen.
“I don’t know whether that’s 14 teams in the division. I don’t know if they will ever go back to that but that seems the sensible option to me and then you’ve got the British & Irish Cup and I can’t see what’s wrong with that.
“I think the British & Irish Cup is a positive. From a clarity perspective you get to see who you are up against in the pool, where before you couldn’t control your own destiny which was a ridiculous format. So you’ve got extra games in that. There’s 11 different opinions. It’s been about having 15-16 home games a year guaranteed. For season ticket holders especially and giving them value for money. People are going to drift away from it if you don’t have regular fixtures.”
Potentially lengthy trips to both Jersey and Newcastle next season could further stretch Bedford’s already limited resources.
In fact, a number of teams have struggled financially in recent seasons, and Rayer said: “We’ve got a trip to Jersey to fund this year and potentially a trip to Newcastle to fund.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple (of clubs) sail close to the wind this year as well.”
And Rayer admitted that his squad structuring has had to be defined by the chairman and club’s finances, saying: “He has every right to be worried about them because of the loss of two games.”
He again backed London Welsh’s claims for promotion after winning the Championship play-off, but revealed he would prefer to see the champions at the end of the regular season rewarded.
Rayer added: “I think if you win this division over the course of 26 games you should go up.
“I think for the whole of the Championship I think it’s refreshing what London Welsh have done.
“You don’t have a platform to shout from without the scenario ever happening. Thankfully this year it has and hopefully it will change for next.
“There could have been another scenario where the eighth team had done it.
“London Welsh came fourth, it didn’t quite make it right. This division shouldn’t be about play-offs it should be the top team.
“For the life of me I don’t see why we go to the end of May. The sides have got no chance in terms of recruitment. We’ve got a lop-sided division in terms of teams full-time and part-time. A lot of our lads have been working.”
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Weather for Bedford
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 11 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North