Wednesday 3 February 2010

London Welsh Trumoil

I haven't commented much on this one, but it is a sorry tell of alleged fraud, deception and poor due diligence. With the club back in the hands of the good and true its time to look to the future.

What is needed a coherent plan which must start with what level funding the club can raise and which level of the game that will get them. Previous planning seems to have been to aim for the top level or bust; well now they are bust. What next?

I don't think the club have leveraged the brand successfully in the past; this must be addressed. Though I think it has been moving in the right direction, there is an enormous amount of untapped potential. London Welsh has good facilities and a great location which are under utilized.

Once the potential value of franchise has been properly assessed then the club has the hard decision to make. Can it afford to play in GP (not a chance), the Championship (probably) or will it be lower down.

London Welsh have to access if the value of franchise is enhanced or reduced by the 'soft 'n' friendly' family club with a good social atmosphere and the need to centre activity at Old Deer Park? London Irish is a much bigger and successful club because of its move from Sunbury. Many current members (myself included) won't like this but it may be for the greater good. If the new management maintains the status quo then the club may have to accept a lower league is the best balance of ambition and resources.

The membership and owners needs to realise the club is neither a ‘community resource’ nor a business but must recognise the success will come from objective business management and engaging the broader stakeholder community.

Finally, the RFU needs to end the arms race in the lower leagues. Salaries in the lower leagues are clearly at a level that is unsustainable and are only justified in buying promotion to the top level. However, like the rest of the country, debt and living beyond ones resources is doomed to failure; Coventry, Birmingham, London Welsh and Manchester have all hit the skids this season. Simply, there is not enough money in the game to allow this to continue. The solution is either to pull up the draw bridge to the Premiership and allow funding and salaries to find its own level or if the RFU want to use the Championship as a development league then it needs to increase the funding available and impose a salary cap.

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