Bradford Bulls players were “under-appreciated, under-valued and under-represented” during the club’s financial crisis, according to a new report.
1eagu3, the Super League players’ association, said the players lacked emotional and financial support during this period and warned the trauma experienced by the Bulls’ players could be repeated unless action is taken.
“The problems suffered by Bradford could happen to any club within Super League,” the association said.
“No club is immune to financial problems. If a club experiences financial difficulties, then the players should not be an afterthought when resolving those difficulties.
“Super League is the most vibrant and exciting elite sporting competition in the country yet the men who make it such a spectacle feel under-appreciated, under-valued and under-represented. It is clear that the players at Bradford could have received better support during that period.
“If the sport is to make progress with player satisfaction then these lessons should be learned and changes made to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated.”
The report also said the players were seen as assets and not people, news of the administration came totally out of the blue to them and players need to be encouraged to seek support.
The report calls on 1eagu3 to be officially recognised by the game’s governing body, the Rugby Football League, and to engage in at least quarterly meetings.
It also calls for the production of a single career-planning service for the players and for counselling services to be transferred from the RFL to improve the trust of the players.
St Helens and England forward Jon Wilkin, who is chairman of 1eagu3, said: “I hope that the RFL and the clubs listen to the views of the players and are prepared to work closely with 1eagu3 to improve player satisfaction within Super League.”
Ernie Benbow, 1eagu3’s chief executive, said: “The themes that emerge from the report lead us to a belief that there needs to be an improvement in the structure of the engagement and involvement of the professional players.
“It is they after all who are the heartbeat of the game. Their voice, engagement and involvement needs to improve and be enhanced.
“We now look towards open, positive dialogue with the RFL and clubs about the report messages and our recommendations. Let us grasp this opportunity to work together in partnership.”