IT’S D-day for the Giants and the other Super League clubs on Tuesday.
That’s the day when the Rugby Football League will confirm which 14 clubs will be granted a Super League licence for the next three years, starting in 2012.
Co-operative Championship club Widnes Vikings have already been told they’ve been promoted into British rugby league’s elite competition, with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats the favourite to make way.
But the other 13 clubs are expected to be given the green light.
Huddersfield’s standing in the Super League competition makes them a cast-iron guarantee, even though they do fall down in some areas which strengthen a clubs’ case to be granted a new licence.
And that includes failing to attract an average attendance of 10,000 – although it can now be argued that’s through no real fault of their own.
Over the past half-dozen years, Giants’ home attendances have grown and grown and grown.
Part of that is clearly down to the success the club have enjoyed on the field, with two Challenge Cup final appearances in the past five years and now an almost regular place in the top-eight play-offs. They did, of course, come within 80 minutes of reaching the Super League Grand Final last season.
But that success means the Giants are now a far bigger television attraction, with Sky TV choosing to screen many of their bigger home games on a very regular basis.
And that’s having a devastating effect on their Galpharm attendances.
Huddersfield are one of the most successful clubs in the competition at attracting young families to games, and if all their home fixtures took place on a traditional Sunday afternoon, then the 10,000 mark would potentially be within their grasp.
But with so many being switched to Friday nights, the number of youngsters coming to the games falls dramatically.
On top of that, there’s now the added problem of end-of-season fixtures being changed at the last minute – cue the ‘Return of the Giants’ Galpharm clash at Hull KR, which is now taking pace next Saturday.
The club’s marketing team have been working flat-out – almost 24/7 – in a bid to promote the game as aggressively as possible.
The match was originally due to take place on Sunday, July 31 and was the first game back at the Galpharm in two months because of the re-laying of a new pitch.
It was clear the Sunday kick-off time was proving attractive to fans, and it’s safe to assume that a 10,000-plus crowd would have been generated on the back of the discounted ticket offers.
But just 13 days before the fixture was due to be staged, in waded Sky TV announcing to the world the game would now be taking place the day before so it could be televised.
There was nothing the Giants could do.
As part of the Sky agreement, the sport’s main TV partner has the right to alter Super League fixtures at almost a moment’s notice – end of!
It didn’t matter that the Giants had spent an incredible amount of time, money and effort making sure as big a crowd as possible was attracted to the match. Sky had spoken, and that was the end of it.
Obviously, there is a price to pay for Sky pumping so much cash into professional rugby league. It would be a far worse product without it.
But it would seem the Giants are paying as high a price as anyone in the elite competition right now.
Fortunately, the fact Huddersfield attendances are suffering as a consequence won’t have a detrimental effect on their Super League franchise bid.
Yet it is having a negative effect on the club’s matchday revenue.
It’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked and why everyone at the Giants who works so hard behind the scenes to make the matchday experience as successful as possible does deserve our sympathy, as well as our utmost respect.