In the past decade or so, the sport's governing body - the Rugby Football League - have made a number of changes within the game in order to improve the sport as a whole. Some of these changes include the licensing system to replace promotion and relegation in 2009, the end of the licensing system to be replaced with a new-fangled Super 8s competition in 2015, the incorporation of Thursday night Sky matches and now - with the delegation of power to Super League clubs themselves - a possible ten-team Super League to come into being in the near future. But not one of these ideas has been and is popular with the masses - those who are the backbone of the sport.

Licensing and Super 8s nightmare

The original licensing system - introduced in 2009 - was a way of copying the NRL in terms of improving stadia, finances and quality of Super League sides. It worked - and is working - Down Under, but in Britain, where second-tier sides live for the dream of promotion and where clubs have a tight leash on finances, it was never going to be successful. Fans of second-tier sides were rightly frustrated and angry at being stripped of a chance of Super League. The licensing system was finally done away with in 2015, only to be replaced by a complicated Super 8s idea that left many fans simply bewildered at the Rubik's cube structure given to them. For those supporters who could remember the simple promotion and relegation prior to 2009, the new Super 8s system was simply a farce.

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Whilst on the face of it, Championship sides have been given a sniff of promotion, the likelihood of achieving it following seven games - or eight if they find themselves in the Million Pound Game - against four Super League sides and three of their nearest Championship rivals is incredibly low. Yes, Leigh were promoted from the second tier in 2016 and so were Hull KR in 2017 but the Centurions had finished top three seasons running and Hull KR were still very much a Super League club in all but name. Fans are already bored of this concept and would much rather see a return to the old-fashioned promotion and relegation. Yet, this system remains in place and nothing has changed.

Ignorance is bliss

For many Super League supporters the tip of the iceberg came when Sky announced that Rugby League would be broadcast live, not just on a Friday night and Saturday evening, but on a Thursday night too. It was a decision - accepted by the RFL like a servant to his master - that completely disregarded the supporters.

When first introduced, a set 8pm kick-off time - now 7.45pm - meant that not only were families with small children likely to miss out what with school the day after, but those working on a Thursday evening or night would not be able to make it either. And, those supporters that prefer a Sunday afternoon kick-off would have had - and do have - no qualms about saying "sod it" and instead watch the game in their living room for free.

For Rugby League, Sky is what makes the world go round, so it's "yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir" with supporters cast aside. When the RFL signed a £200 million, five-year deal with BSkyB in February 2014, Sky's hold over the sport had effectively been confirmed. Rugby League supporters do not want to travel across the Pennines or even just five miles down the road on a Thursday night and it's no surprise that attendances are a few thousand down on those racked up on Friday night and Sunday afternoons.

Indeed, the League Express newspaper put this question to their readers: when would they prefer to watch Rugby League? In the subsequent poll, Thursday night proved to be far by the least popular, whilst Sunday afternoons took 49% of the vote. What more needs to be said? But, in the customary RFL style, only five out of a possible 26 fixtures have been played on a Sunday afternoon so far; two of those would have taken place on a Friday had it not been for the snow. Fans are calling for change, but the hierarchy seem content to bumble on, whistling to Sky's tune.

Another nail in the coffin

Even though Super League clubs themselves have become more influential in the structural and organisational side of the game after Nigel Wood stepped down as RFL chief executive and left the board of Super League Europe, the same ignorance still seems to be rife. Hitting the news recently has been the idea of a ten-team Super League which some top flight sides appear keen on. Yet, another League Express poll which asked fans whether they would prefer a 10, 12, 14 or 16-team league, demonstrated that once more the gulf between fans and their clubs and those at the top is becoming wider.

A mere 7% of the newspaper's readers believed that a ten-team Super League was the way forward, whilst a massive 47% thought that the top flight should return to 14 sides. Whilst the poll cannot be taken as concrete given many supporters would not have taken part in it, it can still be regarded as a reliable microcosm of the views within Rugby League. The fans - whom decide whether a club lives or dies - are saying they do not want a smaller top flight. This, in itself, should be enough for the idea to be abandoned, but knowing Rugby League, it will probably become reality.

Everyone knows the saying that "the customer is always right" and whilst this may not be true for everything, it is certainly correct in Rugby League. The sport cannot continue to ignore its customers, after all, the fans form the core of each and every club and without them, Rugby League is nothing. #RugbyLeague #RL #SuperLeague