The Championship looks to be hugely competitive this season with a huge number of teams capable of making the playoffs, however for top spot it seems to be a two-horse race.
Toulouse have dropped down from Super League and still have a brilliant squad, plus their home record is generally incredibly helpful to their cause, whilst Featherstone have invested an incredible amount to build a scarily strong squad.
On the basis of the first three weeks it looked like this season might be a case of who blinks first between those big boys and it’s the French side who’ve slipped up, losing to a strong Bradford on Saturday.
Featherstone seized that opportunity and posted another 50-plus point performance against Newcastle, taking their aggregate winning score line over four games to an impressive 228-32, or an average win of 57-8.
Obviously a lot of that is on the back of the impressive squad they’ve compiled and it could be seen as a Super League or bust style promotion push, something that can be very dangerous.
Their chairman Mark Campbell has now spoken about this style of investment, going as far as to reference that the team requires larger attendances to justify their wage bill.
In response to a Facebook post within a fan page, Campbell stated bluntly the following:
“We have invested in a quality squad and our match day income doesn’t get anywhere near meeting our wage bill.
“Me and Martin (Vickers- CEO) have to work really hard to meet our commitments to keep this going and seeing such poor attendances, coupled with everyone going to The Railway or Rovers Return for a cheaper pint makes it an even harder task to justify the investment in time/money.
He continued: “This can be a monumental year for the club but if the crowds don’t improve, then I aren’t working my tail off to subsidise us having this team.
“Let’s hope we get a good attendance for the Bradford game as they will think they have a chance now, especially after beating Toulouse.”
Rovers recorded an attendance of 2,489 which was only surpassed by Bradford’s 2,798 in the Championship last weekend so to label it as a “poor” attendance is an interesting comment.
Campbell went on to discuss possible reasons with fans and accepted that prices and the cost of living crisis may be a contributing factor.
“We will look at this and try and get it in place for the Bradford game and we appreciate all the feed back, good or bad. We also realise some fans are struggling with the increased prices of energy.”
Featherstone host Bradford tomorrow in a game that sees television coverage on Viaplay, something that in itself could harm attendance figures.
However with Bradford’s victory over Toulouse the game will take on added importance and could be a real litmus test for Sean Long’s men.
Now though the aforementioned Vickers has confirmed that ticket sales for the clash against Bradford have already exceeded those set for the first two home games of the season.
He took to Twitter to say: “We have already exceeded our numbers for the last 2 games but we need your support more than ever for this top of the table clash, let’s get bouncing for the Bulls!”
yes we have already exceeded our numbers for the last 2 games but we need your support more than ever for this top of the table clash, let’s get bouncing for the Bulls!
— martin vickers (@mart_vickers) March 3, 2023
This shows that how the fans have responded positively to Campbell’s pleas after what he described as “poor” attendances.