The middle 8s and the salary cap

Ahead of the Middle 8s, is it fair that some clubs have almost double the salary cap to play with? Secondly – does it matter?

If we dismiss the possibility of Hull KR pulling off a stunning turnaround this weekend, the dust is now settled on the composition of the Middle 8. Rovers will be joined in a fight for survival by Widnes, Salford and Wakefield. Leigh, Bradford, Sheffield and Halifax join them in a bid for glory and promotion.

Whilst I applaud the concept I have to question whether there is a level playing field for this stage of the season. The obvious disparity is the salary cap. The Super League clubs theoretically have £1.825m to play with whilst the Championship cap is £1m. I say theoretically because income plays a part in the final calculation and many teams spend nowhere near the limit. However, having almost twice as much to play with must be a big advantage to those clubs – or is it?

All of the clubs involved have strengthened (or at least added to) their squads over recent weeks. None more so than Super League bottom club Wakefield. The Wildcats have made nine signings (assuming I can count that far). This would be a significant turnover in a squad over the winter. To do it mid-season is a huge gamble. As a Bulls fan, and I am sure the Centurions have been the same, the Wildcats have had a mental tick against them all season as the weak member of the herd, ready to be picked off in the battle for promotion. My heart sank a little when Brian Smith was announced as their new coach. We still have fond memories at Odsal of how Smith arrived and transformed the club ready for the Super League era. If anybody can rescue Wakefield it will be Smith but, is such a massive overhaul possible in the space of a few weeks? Rather than gamble everything on short term signings (something that licensing was brought in to eradicate from the game) would a couple of new faces and a solid plan for next season been a better approach?Changing the playing roster rapidly rarely works; ask Salford fans if you are in doubt. The more restrained approach of making a key signing may be a better strategy. Certainly Omari Caro has added some much needed pace to the Bulls back line and, if Warrington pull it off, Chris Sandow would be a huge boost to the Wolves.

Of course, signing players on short term deals at the end of a season is nothing new. The Bulls did it very successfully ten years ago, signing Adrian Morley once his Australian commitments were finished for the year, allowing him to add a Super League Grand Final win to his NRL success. I was uncomfortable at the time that the signing was somehow not fair but got over that when we beat Leeds at Old Trafford!

It is that question of fairness that nags away at me now. For the first time, the game is looking to crash together teams from different competitions, with different salary caps into a playoff system. I think it will be a tremendous spectacle for the sport but a more level playing field should be introduced. It is rare that football’s Premier League considers financial fairness but the transfer window is something that the RFL could adopt. My proposal would be that transfers and new player registrations are allowed up until the Magic Weekend. After that – you play with what you have, avoiding the temptation to gamble everything on end of season signings for the playoffs. If the first team squad isn’t producing the goods, try some younger faces from within the club. This would stop the instant fix of signing Aussies that are surplus to requirements at their clubs or the same old faces that regularly move at this time of year.

In summary, it is probably slightly unfair with two salary caps but the caps are there to protect the clubs from over reaching. Does it matter? My bet is that the teams moulded over a season by Leigh, Bradford and Sheffield will prove too good for a scratch team that have just met in the last couple of weeks.

There is one caveat to all of the above. I am writing this on Wednesday afternoon. I have just seen on Facebook that the Bulls are announcing two new signings this evening. If it turns out to be the Burgess twins or Semi Randrada and Shaun Johnson then all bets are off and fairness can take a hike! One thing is for sure, the Middle 8s will be a fascinating battle. Strap yourselves in – this is going to be exciting.

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Soul Man 8

Soul Man 8

Soul Man 8 by Roy Burgess on Mixcloud

 

All of the music on this show is available from Amazon. Just click the links.

Martha/The Vandellas – Dancing in the Street. Originally top 30 in 1964 but reached number 4 on re-ssue in 1969 – their biggest uk hit

David Ruffin – I Can’t Stop the Rain. From his final Motown album In My Stride in 1977 – not a UK hit.

Otis Redding – Hard To Handle. Number 15 in 68 – a year after the singer’s death 

Leon Bridges. River. From the debut album Coming Home. The album lives up to the hype.

Jim Gilstrap – Swing Your Daddy. Reached number 4 in the spring of 1975

Eddie Holland – Baby Shake. Famous as part of the songwriting team Holland Dozier Holland but 1963 solo single stands up to scrutiny!

Loleatta Holloway – Love Sensation. Written by Dan Hartman, number 1 dance song in the US but had to wait until sampled by Black Box for anything in the UK. The samples were never cleared legally and the original vocal had to be hurriedly re-recorded by Heather Small of M People. Black Box reached number 1 in 1989. The late Loleatta Holloway had several UK hits in the 90s

East Coast Connection – Summer In The Park Pt. 1

The Epitome Of Sound – You Don’t Love Me (7″ Mix) From 1968 -as featured in the film Northern Soul film

Shalamar – I Can Make You Feel Good. Number 7 in 1982

Sly And The Family Stone – Dance to the Music. Top 10 in summer of 68. This album only available on CD

Mary Wells – I’ll Be Available. From 1964 on Motown

Marvin Gaye – Can I Get a Witness. Written by Holland – Dozier – Holland

Tony Clarke – Landslide. Never a UK a hit.This album is only available on CD

The Third Degree – Mercy. From the outstanding new compilation album Modern Northern Soul,The Third Degree and their 2009 cover of Duffy’s Mercy

Rodger Collins – She’s Looking Good. From 1967

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – I Second That Emotion. Big hit in 1967

O’JaysBack Stabbers

MFSBT.S.O.P. (The Sound Of Philadelphia

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My genius plan for the economy

My genius plan for the economy

The British economy is a complex thing!

At the end of April I blogged about my new project – refurbishing our apartment in Apperley Bridge ready for us to move in. Being project manager and customer has taught me many things about running projects (largely – don’t try being PM and customer at the same time). With this insight, I feel uniquely positioned to comment on a couple of recent news stories.

If news reports are to be believed, both the Palace of Westminster and Buckingham Palace are in desperate need of repairs. I say believed because my in depth research (a quick trawl of Google) reveals that the cost for the former could be £3bn (BBC and Telegraph), £6bn (Mirror), £7bn (ITV) or £7.1 bn (Telegraph again!). The Daily Mail quoted £3bn – they may have off-shored the work.

Palace of Westminster needs some attention
Palace of Westminster needs some attention

With the contacts made on this project (carpets supplied and fitted by Connaught Carpets), I reckon we could land the Westminster job for a lot less than £7bn but it could take a while as the painter has got several jobs booked already. Buckingham Palace is difficult to quote for as I am not sure what damage the dogs will have done.

In the build up to today’s budget there was a lot of talk about spreading any economic growth so that the north will benefit. Obviously, when government ministers talk about the north they mean the band between Islington and Watford. Being a Yorkshireman, I can see further than that. So, how about this for an alternative. Let’s move the whole lot – government and monarchy, to Yorkshire.

The benefits

The economic benefits alone should clinch the deal. Instead of spending £7bn repairing the Palace of Westminster, we could sell the whole lot to Disney. Given the cost of property round there, river views, access to trains etc.the site must be worth a bob or two. I would guess at £10bn flooding into the nation’s coffers. They could then pick up the tab for any repairs and we could insist on using local firms for the job. At that point we are at least £17bn in profit with all that income for the builders waiting to be taxed. But it doesn’t end there because, by moving all of the MPs to Yorkshire, the country would only be paying a fraction of the current levels of expenses to allow the rental of second homes. In fact, they could be integrated into large council estates. I dare say living in Gipton or Harehills would keep the Tories on their toes. The Lib Dems could rent a couple of terrace houses and all live together like The Beatles in Help!

Genius

Now, here’s the best bit. Where would the Houses of Parliament be? Obvious – The City Varieties in Leeds. It has a history of stand up comedy and dressing up in costumes.

City Varieties
City Varieties

The speaker could work in the style of the late Leonard Sachs, in fact, he already does. (Kids – ask your mum.) Now, the capacity is a bit low – less than 500 seats. However, the only time when they all turn up is the first day of term and the new boys can always stand on the stage. We could then tell them that it is tradition for the newcomers to sing a song and get the first round in at Whitelocks – genius. Within a couple of days we would be down to a dozen or so turning up for debates and these could be adjourned to the White Swan next door.

The PM’s audience with the Queen would be easy enough as we have a nice apartment for rent which would suit a semi retired couple nicely. It is all on one level so no need for a stair lift and, from the 18th floor you can look down on your kingdom easily enough (handy for the train and Harvey Nichs

too). The dogs could be a problem but I’m sure we could increase the bond and work something out.

An ideal vantage point to survey one's kingdom
An ideal vantage point to survey one’s kingdom

 

Downside

The only down side to the plan would be 650 MPs cluttering up the bars and restaurants of Leeds. Come to think of it – probably best to forget it and me and the boys will start the refurbishment a week on Monday (with a delay before we can start the painting of course).

 

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