Statement from David Sharpe on behalf of the club.

The future Of Barrow Rugby League

Last Wednesday evening Barrow Raiders came within hours of going out of existence.  Together with the other four remaining directors, too few much too few for the club to prosper, I faced the prospect of the club being no longer able to pay its players and staff caused by a huge black hole in our finances.  It was only due to a fantastic eleventh hour offer by one of our directors that the club is still in existence to day and will hopefully finish the season which is ironically one of our best for some years.

A community icon in the Furness Peninsula was nearly committed to history and yet another part of our culture – what makes us who we are – would have been consigned to memory and eventually forgotten.

This was the third time in our recent history that the club has been close to closure.  I want to help you understand the background and this bulletin is to explain the current position of the club and the recent history that has brought us to this point.

I was approached in May 2017 by senior figures within and associated with the club who raised serious concerns about the financial welfare of Barrow Rugby League.  I was asked to return but I was reluctant as I felt I had given enough time to the club and need to devote more time to our business.

Throughout the following 4 months, I was regularly contacted and asked to return.  Two new directors had joined the board,John Coward and Dave Robinson, and were confident the club had moved forward and asked again for me to be chairman.

In August, I agreed to come back to help sort the problems. Once back at the club it became immediately apparent that John and David had been misinformed regarding the financial state of Barrow R.L.

You will be amazed and horrified to know that the club had £7.50 in the bank with wages due and had two winding up orders from the Inland Rev & Customs.  Stunningly, I received a phone call from the receivers who informed me that on 20th September they were changing the locks to Craven Park and to remove anything before that date.  The club also had £50,000 of immediate unpaid bills.  It took courage and determination.

My first task was to bring people to the board who could commit time and effort to stop the club folding: Keith Holt, Dawn Knowles and Sean Hunter stepped forward for which I thank them.

The club needed money quickly and before the end of the financial year on November 30th.  Firstly, to start paying back the immediate debt and secondly to prevent a massive breach of the salary cap, that would have resulted in the club losing its promotion.  However, this meant that money that should have been budgeted for 2018 had to be used for 2017.

In October we started to sign new players only to find out from the RFL that in May 2017 the club had been placed in special measures due to the concern over financial affairs within the club.  This meant the club could not sign any players without initial consent from the R.F.L.  Again,stunning information, not known to me but, again, we soldiered on.

These months were horrendous, but through extensive, time consuming efforts, we managed to get the special measures lifted but the RFL set the salary cap at a figure the club had to adhere to.   Funds were limited and restricted even more so by the fact that 19 players had been given two year contracts with built in wage rises if the club gained promotion to the championship.

Despite this a squad of 30 players were assembled, the club through Mr Keith Holt’s brilliant efforts, has raised over £160,000 in sponsorship; three times more than in 2017 but has had to meet contract payments substantially higher than 2017 and pay off the large debt of 2017.

As everyone knows in recent weeks, the club has suffered horrendous injury crisis reducing the squad dramatically with last minute illnesses to two players and a work injury that left us with only 15 players for the Featherstone game with injuryand illnesses affecting 14 players.  Gene Ormsby decided he no longer wanted to travel and has stopped attending training.

Under our brilliant coach and his assistant, despite these unpredicted set of circumstances, the performance of the team has been superb and above expectations with particularlystunning results against Leigh and Toronto at home. Everyone I have spoken to praises the attitude and determination of our gallant band of players: often against all the odds.

As a result, although the aim at the beginning of the year, was to avoid relegation we are now in a strong position and a stronger position than we expected.

Steve Neale has joined the board and is already making animpact, however, in recent weeks, John Coward has stepped down from the board but will continue to support and sponsorthe club.  John has been a really dedicated director and is a great fan of the club.

The club obviously needs new directors that can commit time, carry out specific duties within the club, help instigate and follow through new income streams.  The only way is up and we want to build a capacity so that our great club does not just survive on a day to day basis but is comfortable in this division and then who knows what we can aim for.

In May /June the club had a seven week period with only onehome game.  Cash flow is our main short-term concern.  Remember the club has raised a tremendous level of sponsorship this year but too much of this money has been used to pay of last years debts and meet contract payments that increased substantially in 2018.

If we can maintain our position in the league, we may be in a much stronger position financially at the end of the season.

However, to allow this to happen and ease the cash flow situation we need financial investment in Barrow Rugby League now!  The club is part of our town’s heritage and if we lose it we will never get it back.

We need Barrovians living elsewhere (includinginternationally) and people across Furness and Millom to rally round and stand up for the rugby.

We accept communication has been limited and it is our intention to now hold a monthly meeting open to all supporters for updates to be given and open discussion to take place.

This year and in previous years, various directors have heavily funded the club but this can’t continue and we need the people of Barrow-in-Furness to help this wonderful club move forward.  There is a great future but the firefighting has to stop.

With this in mind we will be opening a JustGiving page and start our campaign: Take One for the Team.

Simply, we are asking every supporter to bring one new person with them to every game.  If 300 supporters brought one adult each, we would raise £4,500 extra at every home game.  This is an easy way to make a massive difference;hopefully it is achievable for every supporter with a massive impact to the club.

As well as physical support it must be possible through the JustGiving page to create a virtual crowd who will, by donation boost our attendance revenue.  Please get in touch with friends and family living outside the area and even the country to persuade them to contribute.  Your club needs them.

Sometimes sports clubs are more important than the result of a game or a league position.  They are about heritage, culture and the blood sweat and tears of a great community.    Barrow Raiders is part of a special cultural heritage we need in our local community but also the ‘expat’ community living elsewhere in the country or overseas to get involved and show the spirit that make our club great!

To that said if you want to influence the future of the club and have the skills and time to be a director: step forward!  Barrow Town Council if you want to support our heritage: step forward! With a great coach, dedicated players and superb volunteers we have the best of a great club.  We can’t let the raiders die!

28 Replies to "Statement from David Sharpe on behalf of the club."

  • comment-avatar
    Ram Rod.
    29th June 2018 (4:13 pm)
    Reply

    What do you expect the council to do? They are skint as well.
    Wrap it up sell the ground. No ones interested.

    • comment-avatar
      GORDON WOODHOUSE
      29th June 2018 (6:06 pm)
      Reply

      how wrong are you mate we get more fans than the football .and we will come through this We dont need people with your attitude

      • comment-avatar
        Bill Wood
        1st July 2018 (7:05 pm)
        Reply

        quite agree Woody

    • comment-avatar
      Lynda Henderson
      29th June 2018 (6:12 pm)
      Reply

      What an absolute terrible thing to say. You may not be intetested in the rugby but lots are . Good luck barrow raiders

    • comment-avatar
      Dot Penny
      29th June 2018 (11:51 pm)
      Reply

      That’s a very narrow minded attitude good job we aren’t all in that frame of mind

    • comment-avatar
      Gaz
      30th June 2018 (12:41 am)
      Reply

      Ram rod your are out your depth move on….
      The raiders are a great club with passionate fans no need for your negative shit I’m from Wigan and I care!!

    • comment-avatar
      Bill Wood
      1st July 2018 (7:04 pm)
      Reply

      if we were all like you laddie..there would be nothing for this town to celebrate. best stay away as no one with any sense would be willing for the RL to go down.

  • comment-avatar
    Terry
    29th June 2018 (5:08 pm)
    Reply

    In the meantime intelligent people will take good time to study the post, no doubt asking intelligent questions and hopefully positing solutions. Bad hair day Rod?

  • comment-avatar
    Gary Adgie
    29th June 2018 (5:26 pm)
    Reply

    Could you televise future games via Facebook , or other streams , and ask for a voluntary donation to watch them ?

    • comment-avatar
      Paul Bispham
      29th June 2018 (6:03 pm)
      Reply

      I agree with Gary, I’d happily make a donation to watch a game on my iPad from Berkshire….

      • comment-avatar
        Terry
        29th June 2018 (6:08 pm)
        Reply

        Problem with that Paul is your donation would have to be at least the admission fee to CP. Otherwise, why would people attend a match if they could see it for cheap on IPad?

  • comment-avatar
    Rebecca
    29th June 2018 (6:19 pm)
    Reply

    Happy to donate in the name of my Great Uncle Johnny Grundy. Wish I’d be able to donate more but will give what I can. Hope others will too.
    Please let us know when the justgiving page is open.

  • comment-avatar
    Tony Callister
    29th June 2018 (8:29 pm)
    Reply

    I’m sport heritage in this town and fully understand the pressures on sport at this level of competition. Well done Paul Crarey, players and the staff involved at all levels. Keep the faith.

  • comment-avatar
    Lee
    29th June 2018 (9:37 pm)
    Reply

    Not sure how they do it but it always amazes me how local NRL clubs (the second tier feeder clubs) have amazing set ups and seemingly no shortage of cash here in Australia. Maybe they are part funded by the NRL? Its never going to be enough to save the club but smaller clubs here by putting an awning up outside our equivalent of B and Q, manning it with volunteers and selling sausage sandwiches and soft drinks. That’s one sausage diagonally on one piece of bread, a few onions anda bit of sauce. They don’t charge the earth, maybe £1.50 each. With the signage around it sayingbthat buying one is helping the club people are more willing because they are also getting something back in return! Set one up every day in the middle of Dalton Road. They are immensely popular here!

  • comment-avatar
    Julie Carnall
    29th June 2018 (9:42 pm)
    Reply

    As a Sheffield Eagles supporter who almost lost our club recently, I sympathise and wish you the best of luck in your endeavours. No one wants to see clubs disappear

  • comment-avatar
    Andy
    29th June 2018 (10:18 pm)
    Reply

    Hope you guys get sorted, Barrow always a tough game and just a proper RL club. (York Fan)

  • comment-avatar
    john hill
    29th June 2018 (11:00 pm)
    Reply

    Come on Barrow hang in there. All the best from Wolfpack fans.

  • comment-avatar
    dar
    29th June 2018 (11:19 pm)
    Reply

    we at the Keighley cougars have just had the same news as you I hope you survive as well as our self all the best barrow

  • comment-avatar
    Dot Penny
    29th June 2018 (11:53 pm)
    Reply

    Maybe the money invested in Toronto could go to helping local clubs …

  • comment-avatar
    Shaun
    30th June 2018 (3:47 am)
    Reply

    Surely sustainability is key. If the RFL funds cover player wages, then additional revenue (sponsors, merch, tickets) can go towards facilities and backroom staff?

  • comment-avatar
    Baz woodhall
    30th June 2018 (8:07 am)
    Reply

    John hill, thanks for the support from your club. But unfortunately your club are part of the problem.
    Good luck to Haven and the keighley as well but I fear for rugby league .

  • comment-avatar
    Alan Marshall
    30th June 2018 (1:18 pm)
    Reply

    Swinton Lions know more than most the difficult position your club is in. They are dark times and difficult for those at the helm involving a lot of stress and soul searching. Thankfully for the Lions the supporters rallied tremendously and with help from the council we have been able to turn around the clubs fortunes, difficult decisions will need to be made particularly on the playing side but done correctly your club will emerge from this stronger and in a better place. Wishing you all well.

  • comment-avatar
    Captain Survival
    30th June 2018 (6:11 pm)
    Reply

    Once your funding page has opened up I, a Toronto Wolfpack fan and living in the Toronto area, will donate, and I suspect once we put the word out on the totalrl forum so will some other TWP fans. Had this been known prior to your game in Toronto a funding booth could have been set up where TWP fans adopted a Barrow player or something similar, and I am sure it would have raised some money. It is true many TWP fans are still learning the ropes via-a-vis the other RL teams but the core base is knowledgeable, and very much respects and appreciates heartland clubs such as Barrow.

    Please have some of your supporters post the link on the totalrl forum when you get it up. I am good for at least $100CAD.

    BTW to the one who commented “maybe the money invested in Toronto could go to local clubs”. FYI, not one penny has come from RL or SL into the club. In fact TWP agreed to forgo all prize money in L1 and Championship, plus they cover airfare, room and board of visiting clubs to Toronto – last week they also paid for a bus trip of the Barrow team to take in the sights at Niagara Falls and some other sites. TWP is 100% internally, sponsor and fan financed – not a penny of rugby dollars from the UK. And we at TWP are just fine with that.

  • comment-avatar
    Terry
    30th June 2018 (7:02 pm)
    Reply

    Thanks to all in the RL community for your support and special thanks to TWP. It’s why fans are starting to like you, lol. Look forward to the day you can put a plane load of fans together for a game over here. Boy, what a reception you’ll get, wherever you play.

  • comment-avatar
    Andy gibbond
    30th June 2018 (10:05 pm)
    Reply

    The rules are bent for you captain survival. Nice offer but your comment are somewhat patronising.

  • comment-avatar
    Bill Wood
    1st July 2018 (7:07 pm)
    Reply

    I go to all home games..I get a season ticket every year no matter. If they were at bottom of league below it would not stop me ot many others. Todays showing was Just even against some ordinary Halifax and some not so good Referreing.

  • comment-avatar
    Paul campbell
    2nd July 2018 (9:07 am)
    Reply

    Being a london fan i feel for you guys. I hope and pray your club survives. The sport needs every club. The sport cannot afford to lose clubs and fans. Good luck for the future

  • comment-avatar
    Mickmike Wilson
    5th July 2018 (9:17 pm)
    Reply

    Where is the Just Giving page?

    It should be plastered EVERYWHERE so people reading pages like this feel the emotion & are TEN TIMES more likely to donate as they are already here reading the thread..

    I donated at the weekend & am looking for the link to donate again & can not find it??????

    It should be very visible across all mediums, Speculate to Accumulate..


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