Leaner times for the London Broncos are not only on the horizon anymore, they are now on the doorstep of the club and knocking ever louder. Indeed, the news that the club will now go part-time during the 2022 season will come as a concern to the supporters and those who want to see elite-level rugby league representation in the capital. How then has it come to this?
Ultimately, it comes down to the reduced television deal which has seen funding cut from £40 million to around £25 million. One must keep in mind that the lion’s share of the television agreement goes to Super League clubs in the top tier with only a fraction of that sum filtering down to the clubs below.
Club Statement | Squad Contract Status 2022
— London Broncos (@LondonBroncosRL) September 7, 2021
On top of the reduced funding for seasons to come, you also have to take into consideration the club’s relegation from Super League in 2019. That wasn’t necessarily the catalyst for disaster but few could have predicted what was to follow in 2020 and how that impacted the finances of professional sport around the world. So with a curtailed season in which the London club was making headway as far as a return to the top flight goes, the inevitable was always going to happen with top-flight clubs coming in for their best players.
Indeed, the departures of several key playing personnel in Rob Butler, Jay Pitts, Eddie Battye, Jordan Abdull, and Rhys Williams were a real body blow but not altogether a surprise. Of course, it was disappointing for fans but players of that quality were always going to make a swift return to the top, unlike the club itself.
Furthermore, if you were to have a look at the latest rugby league betting as far as the 2021 grand final goes, you’ll see some of the players that have moved on are with clubs who could go all the way at Old Trafford.
Indeed, the likes of Abdull with Hull KR who are at admittedly longer odds of 50/1 to win the 2021 Grand Final but then again, that is a lot closer to Super League’s most prestigious silverware than being in the Championship.
🗣"If you're a part of this club and not excited, there's something wrong with you. It's something I'm really looking forward to being a part of for a little longer."
Ben Crooks spoke to KRTV on his new one-year extension…
— Hull KR (@hullkrofficial) September 7, 2021
So, with this in mind, will the London Broncos ever be able to get back to the top table of rugby league now that the club has taken on a part-time status?
Whilst it will be very hard, it certainly won’t be impossible given other clubs will in all likelihood also have to tighten their belts in a bid to survive. Indeed, any outfit not operating more frugally now that the funding is drying up will face severe ramifications if the gamble of promotion doesn’t come off.
In this respect, no, the Broncos certainly aren’t alone but neither are they guaranteed anything going forward. The fact of the matter is that the pond is becoming bigger whilst they shrink in size, their immediate future will be decided on how they respond to the cuts and which new cult heroes will stand up and take this famous club forward.