Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club launch £50k public appeal to plug gap in income
With the RFU terminating their season and their facilities having gone into lockdown, Bury St Edmunds have launched an ambitious £50,000 target crowdfunding page to plug the financial hole they are facing.
Chairman David Reid has revealed it is a ‘desperate’ situation at the Haberden conpounded by already knowing before the coronavirus outbreak that their main club sponsor is stepping back.
The club usually rely on a spread of revenue streams from their facilities including a 3G pitch and gym, while their annual Greene King IPA 7s’ tournament is in doubt of going ahead this year having been postponed.
But Reid, who has kicked things off with a £100 donation to the JustGiving page, believes their sizeable membership, along with the wider community, can help them pull through the challenging times they are facing.
“We desperately need that money to maintain the momentum we have as a club and prevent any slippage in that which might end up with us going down the leagues and losing what it has taken us so much effort and time to build up here,” he said.
“We were about to invite everyone down to the 7s which would bring in £10-£15 a hit and net us anything between 30-40k.
“We wondered whether people could put their hands in their pockets for £10 or £15 as if they were coming down to the 7s to ultimately safeguard the club to be able to put on a cracking event (possibly) next year.”
He did want to stress they had not yet cancelled the 7s, which was due to take place on May 16, though could not be sure they will yet be able to find a date and resources to run it.
Of the funding shortfall they are facing, he said: “There is a difference between income and what you are going to be left with, but in reality what we are trying to raise is £50,000 to get us through until July or August when the players will be available for pre-season training and we have to start paying coaches.
“We are just looking at that to keep our heads above water and keep the club running and hopefully, not create any slippage in terms of our position in the leagues.”
He said the players were on pay-as-you-pay contracts so felt they would not suffer with retaining them for next season. And indeed he revealed former Bury-raised professional Ben Cooper is among those to have agreed new contracts in another player-coach role.
Wales-based head coach Nick Wakley has agreed to go on unpaid leave but is not about to disappear for good.
“He fully appreciates and supports the club’s position and he has in effect stepped back from his contract in order to help the club out and we are greatly appreciate of that. And also, he is signing for next season,” said Reid.
He said the full and part-time staff at the club had been furloughed and have agreed to wait for funds to arrive from the government’s 80 per cent employee retainer scheme.
Meanwhile, the RFU has terminated the seasons at all levels of rugby but for the Gallagher Premiership, which is in negotiations still. But clubs are still waiting to hear what it means for their final league positions.
Bury were on course for a best ever finish in the top six, having been left sixth in National League 2 South with six games to go.
Wakley said:"I do not envy the people taking these decisions.
"They have just told us they are taking the decision to finish this season.
“It is pretty lucky for us they have done it as we have got four or five ancestry foreigners who have got to go back to New Zealand and Australia to see relatives before a lockdown.”
“It would have left a situation where I was having to field an understrength side for the rest of the season.”
* Bury’s fund-raising page can be found here
More by this authorRussell Claydon