The organisers of the traditional pre-season trial game between London Skolars and Harlequins RL are reported to be switching the game away from its traditional late January weekend slot at New River to a corporate focused event played on the afternoon of Tuesday 22nd January at the Honourable Artillery Company ground near Moorgate.
Initial indications are that tickets for the match will be restricted to three hundred people at £55 per person including some form of corporate hospitality. The hope behind the move is that it will introduce potential corporate supporters to both clubs, which in turn will produce a much needed influx of capital into rugby league in London. The danger, however, is that the game may fail to sell, leaving the clubs out of pocket and existing supporters alienated by the exclusivity of the pricing policy.
It will be interesting to see the makeup of any potential Quins side; recent years have seen a line up based largely around academy and fringe first team players allowing a more competitive friendly than would be expected from a straight clash between a professional Super League club and a semi-professional National League Two outfit. Creating any new corporate event is likely to be a challenge, creating one around a match that has traditionally been little more than a training exercise is likely to be even harder.
As by far the smaller of the two clubs London Skolars arguably have the most to lose from the event failing, a home game against Super League opposition early in the year usually attracts a decent crowd by regular season standards and with it a much needed cash boost. An expensive corporate event would need to deliver sufficient ticket sales to cover costs as once tickets have gone on sale any cancellation would leave both clubs looking very shoddy to the investors they are desperate to attract. If however just one significant investor were to come forward from the event then any short-term loss would be mitigated by the long-term benefit.