This year's Summer Bash saw the lowest crowd hit Blackpool since the concept began back in 2015. After the success of Super League's Magic Weekend, the Rugby Football League (RFL) saw the opportunity to expand the concept into the second division, with the Bash being held every year at Blackpool's Bloomfield Road. Though the skill and talent on show has been impressive in the four years that Blackpool has hosted the weekend, Championship fans just aren't getting behind it as those in Super League do for the Magic Weekend. Is it time to do away with the Magic Weekend's poor relation?

Teams and crowds

In 2015, 15,671 spectators flocked to the western seaside resort of Blackpool for a weekend of Rugby League. This number grew to just shy of 16,000 in 2016 to the biggest crowd yet in 2017 of 16,444. However, this year's Summer Bash saw just 11,805 attend over the course of both days - a measly 3,928 went through the turnstiles on the Sunday.

What kind of message does this send out? Those kind of statistics are not exactly encouraging, but is there any surprise with the likes of Toronto, Toulouse and London - the expansion sides that the RFL are increasingly eager to see in the top flight - in the same division and the fact that only Leigh, Featherstone and Halifax took support worthy of writing home about?

The rest of the teams that make up the division - Batley, Dewsbury, Rochdale, Swinton, Barrow, and Sheffield - average less than 1,000 spectators per home game, so how could organisers expect more than that to travel to Blackpool in the first place? Last year, the Championship had both Hull KR and Bradford, but neither Barrow nor Toronto (whom were both in League One).

Hull KR travel well wherever they go and Bradford still hold on to a hefty core support, therefore, numbers were always going to be down for 2018. But surely this should have clicked in organisers' heads and marketing for this year's Bash should have been greater than ever.

Lack of interest

There was almost a 5,000 reduction in the number of attendees - a huge 34 per cent decrease from 2017 - which does not exactly bode well for the future of the concept.

Plus, whereas at the Magic Weekend supporters tend to stay for most - if not all - of the games on offer, Championship fans seemed keen to exit after watching their team play. This suggests that they are not a fan of the concept as a whole - Magic Weekend and Summer Bash tickets are for the day or for the weekend to encourage supporters to watch other matches on show. If Championship supporters are voting with their feet, then it is time to rethink the concept.

On-field success

Despite the thousands of empty tangerine seats glaring in the sunshine and the echoing voices of those supporters that did turn up, the Summer Bash once again delivered on the field. With the exception of Swinton's 38-12 victory over Rochdale, each game was highly competitive with some great skill and rip-roaring entertainment on show.

On the field, the Summer Bash does work - players want to play somewhere different, on a big stage in front of the Sky cameras and the level of excitement is up there with any Super League game. But, off the field, if the Bash is to survive, there needs to be an impressive marketing drive to get the fans to flock to Bloomfield Road. The concept simply cannot survive without the consumer's backing and the cringeworthy drop in the attendance over the two days as compared to last year could well have been the final nail in the Summer Bash's coffin.