With the announcement from Super League and the RFL, as well as the distribution of criteria to the clubs, the London Broncos have been able to reflect on the requirements and have been working through the application process to apply for the 12th place in Super League for 2021.
It has never been the style of the Broncos to speculate or shout from the roof tops. From our owner David Hughes, a private man, and throughout the rest of our club we pride ourselves on being dignified and respectful and saw no benefit in speaking out on speculation regarding what may or may not happen with the withdrawal of Toronto.
As a club we firmly believe we tick the majority of the boxes required in the criteria and long before this process was speculated on we had already started work on a number of projects in the Spring that will see the club work towards meeting the required standard of Super League in every single aspect, including higher crowds. These developments have taken months to implement and are still a work in progress but we are hopefully close to fruition and we expect to be able to announce these soon. We would love to shout about these things but until signed and delivered we prefer to keep our cards close to our chest.
Our Academy is regarded as one of the biggest expansion success stories in the British game, funded by our owner David Hughes, and for the benefit of the game as a whole for a number of years, producing talent that has gone on to win International Honours, Super League Grand Finals and Challenge Cups. This Academy and Scholarship programme provides a pathway all the way through to Elite level Rugby League. Well before the players are selected for the Scholarship programme they play our game across the South East at the community clubs in the region, these clubs do a brilliant job nurturing the young players. A large number of staff are required to ensure this system works as well as it does and with Rob Powell heading up this department for a number of years the hard work of all of these people is now starting to become apparent.
On the field our staff are of equal high regard with one of the brightest young coaching groups in the game. Danny Ward is a charismatic Head Coach with a thoughtful and modern approach to the game of Rugby League gaining fans around the sport for his approach to Super League in 2019 that saw us miss out on survival on points difference.. Jamie Langley, Tom Tsang, Mike Eccles and Nick Naylor head up the support of our Head Coach with an energised approach to learning and improvement which has seen us progress our performance side year on year and use innovative methods to get the best out of our players. All of our performance team are fully committed to bringing a number of Academy products into the first team squad each season and we currently run with around 70% home grown players in our first team squad, something many others would struggle to rival.
Our off-field team is small but highly experienced and the work they are doing in the community and commercially is starting to pay dividends. A structured plan for both community development and commercial aspects of the club is in place and the response has been fantastic. Our award winning community team is set for expansion as part of a wider club progression and we hope to see 2021 bringing a record number of school engagements for the club. Commercially brands are continuing to want to partner with the Broncos, despite the difficult times many are facing, and we have many partnerships ready to reveal for 2021.
We will put forward a strong case for the Broncos to be in SL 2021 and, of course, feel that we are one of the stand out candidates for a place in the sports Premium competition. A strong London side opens doors in the media and commercially that Rugby League needs as a National game. However, should our bid be unsuccessful we are already well underway with preparations for building a squad capable of winning the Championship and an off-field progression that would ensure the club is making huge strides forward. These plans were in place long before Super League became an opportunity and all of our staff have been fully focussed on building the club this summer.
We’re fully aware of our own fans frustrations with the lack of signings this year so far however, David, Danny and myself have wanted to take a cautious approach to squad building. We have very specific requirements when we look to bring in players, a requirement that ensures the dynamic and tightness of the squad is not disrupted and we are still very active in talking to players for 2021. The general feeling, around the whole game, and not just within the club, is that there will be a lot of activity in early 2021 when clubs can plan for the start of the season and potential travel issues are lifted so we are confident of picking up further quality throughout the winter. What I can assure fans is that we will start 2021 with a squad of players raring to go regardless of which competition we are in.
I’m also seeing a number of people wanting more from the media team and are critical of communication. At the moment a large number of our staff are furloughed. In fact we have worked the full lockdown with very few people undertaking all duties at the club so being able to please everybody has been difficult. Our intention has been to keep people informed when there is something to say but often there is very little we are able to update. It has been a frustrating time, we understand that, and hopefully we are now on our way out of this tough period. Our supportive fan group will hopefully soon see a return to some normality.
Hopefully there is some light at the end of the tunnel and that we will be able to welcome supporters back into the ground when the 2021 season kicks off.