Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club chairman David Reid says 'no lingering financial crisis' after departure of director of rugby Jon Curry
David Reid has said there is no lingering financial crisis at Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club, following the shock departure of director of rugby and head coach Jon Curry at the end of last week.
Speaking openly to the Free Press about the situation the chairman, who succeeded long-serving Mike Robinson in the summer, revealed:
- Two big sponsors suddenly withdrawing from a coaching scheme led to the budget ‘needing to be realigned’.
- Results played a part in Curry leaving but were not the overarching factor.
- Pro-am performance director Terry Sands will be able to bring in an outside candidate as a replacement.
- The rest of the club’s finances are in good order.
- The club has temporarily pulled back its promotion ambitions in the wake of the RFU’s wage cap and funding allowances.
Bury-based insurance company owner Reid, a previous player who has been associated with the club for 30 years, said of the decision to part company with former Northampton Saints Academy coach Curry, less than a year after taking over from Ollie Smith: “It is being realistic to the budget that was set at the start of the season for the Pro-am side.
“It needed to be realigned and we decided something had to give, and unfortunately Jon Curry had to go as a result.”
He also said their ambitions previously reported in the Free Press to achieve Championship status (two promotions) no longer stood until a feasible financial plan of each level above can be understood and forecast be met.
Following a player wage cap having to be met for RFU funding to be received, he has calculated the next level up is thought to have to rely on the club generating an extra £100,000 a year in income. And he will not risk the future financial stability of the club in chasing promotions.
With the club having increased their Pro-am (first team) coaching budget since Gavin Hogg left the previous summer, he said the fourth tier outfit were no longer able to take advantage of the funding streams for it, so may not need to revert back to a similar structure to before.
“Gavin Hogg was the director of rugby and head coach but did a lot of the community coaching piece and everything around it,” said Reid.
“This particular year the club decided to go one better and split the role.
“JC came in just to do the director or rugby and head coach piece. And Ross Finlay took over the community coaching.
“We could never have foreseen this but two of the biggest income streams were not necessarily forthcoming.
“It was not because of the coaching we were delivering but pure and simply their budgets would not allow for the amounts we had taken advantage of over the last few years.
“When it came to a decision over Ross or JC there were a few factors in play. Yes, results on the pitch but it was hard to blame JC for that this season.
“He had a consultancy firm he could pick up and concentrate on whereas Ross did not have another business to go to.
“We reasonably amicably decided to part company (with JC) and now we need to re-structure the team with a realistic budget going forward.”
Pro-am performance director Sands will be left to make the call on a new coaching figurehead appointment, with Reid saying he will continue to stay out of the rugby as he concentrates on the purse strings.
Although there is no time frame pressure from Reid, it is understood an announcement could come in the next week, with Bury not having a fixture to contend with this weekend.
Former head coach Andy Herlihy stepped up from his fourth official role to take charge of the team alongside backs coach Craig Burrows, with match-day input also from former Ireland player Kevin Maggs, in Saturday’s 36-22 home defeat to Worthing.
But Herlihy, who is understood to command great respect in the dressing room, has ruled himself out of taking the job on a permanent basis.
Maggs is still employed by Ireland to scout for them, so is also thought to be out of the frame and is not currently available every weekend.
Curry was not contactable at the time of going to press and lasted less than a year, having been appointed in March, following the shock departure of former Leicester Tigers player Ollie Smith for ‘personal reasons’.
It means since Hogg, who masterminded two promotions in six memorable years, left to go to then higher-league Old Albanians, Bury have had three head coaches in less than 18 months, with his original successor Jon Clarke having not overseen a game before also leaving for personal reasons.
Meanwhile, former Bury player Ehren Painter has been rewarded for his form this season with his first senior deal at Northampton Saints, signing a contract until 2021.