Thursday night Super League nights are just fine by me

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I HAVE largely biased reasons for wanting to see Thursday night fixtures continue in Super League.

For me, the more games I can actually get out and report on the better – it’s one of the main reasons I got into this gig – so the chance to attend Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday is just fine and dandy.

Admittedly, if I’m asked that question again at the end of November having witnessed England’s three-game Test series against the Kiwis on the back of rugby union’s World Cup and the whole Super 8s, Grand Final and Million Pound Game concoction, I reserve the right to completely change my mind on this particular subject.

However, generally speaking, I’m all for ‘more is better’ when it comes to viewing the sport of rugby league.

If I was a fan, though, my viewpoint might be distinctly different; trekking across the M62 on a Thursday night is probably far from ideal especially when you have kids in tow being a school night etc.

Crowds have not been great for some such fixtures and it is understandable, while there does seem to be a growing unrest about the slot continuing as it is all set to do in 2016.

Wigan attracted 11,448 to the opening Super 8s game on Thursday night, one of their lowest home crowds of the season despite the fixture apparently launching the whole new concept of how the campaign is to be decided.

However, broadcasters rule and they have their reasons for maintaining the status quo on the small screen.

And the game is in no real position to argue otherwise.

Mounting data is being accumulated, though, to illustrate the general disdain for the traditionally alien fixture night.

Website Undertheposts.com was the latest to reveal findings from its survey earlier this week.

Conducted from fans using social media and leading rugby league websites, on average more than four out of 10 respondents branded Thursdays – initiated in place of Sky’s previous Saturday slot – as “awful” with less than two per cent decreeing them “excellent”.

It also showed one in five people would be unlikely to watch a Thursday night home game and nearly 60 per cent said they would not go to an away game on that night of the week.

Almost half of respondents noted that they would back a return to Saturday TV games and it is perhaps no surprise when analysing the answers to questions on their reasons for voting against.

Fully 52 per cent of those not able to attend all their clubs on a Thursday gave work-related reasons, while travel issues was clearly key (42 per cent) for those not attending away fixtures.

Eighty per cent said the best way to improve or change games on Thursday would be to not have them at all, pretty damning feedback given a total of 1,043 fans from 28 different clubs took part.

It is not all doom and gloom, though; more than a third of respondents already “love” the new Super 8s system and another 31 per cent are yet to decide saying the jury is still out.

Maybe that number will eventually be greater if Thursdays are dumped but that looks unlikely for some time yet.

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