Barrow Raiders announce new chairman Steve Neale
BRLFC STATEMENT ANNOUNCING CHANGES IN THE BOARDROOM
First of all I would like to thank my fellow directors for putting faith in me and my election to chairman. I am honoured and privileged to accept the position and I promise that I will do everything in my power to guide the club to better times. I would also again like to thank David Sharpe and Dawn Knowles. In the short time I have been on the board I have nothing but respect for them and the time and dedication they gave to their roles.
I am delighted to announce that John Coward has agreed to return to the board to give some much needed stability; John is a tremendous asset around the place.
I can also announce that Denis Fay has agreed to join the board. Denis has attended board meetings for the past few weeks and has already made an impact and he share’s my vision for the club. This is a real coup.
This adds to Peter Murphy, who has energy to burn and is totally dedicated to the club and Peter Hornby who offerssupport from the side-lines. Keith Holt has taken the role of general manager and is a massive help dealing with the day to day issues within the club.
I want to give my perspective of the financial situation that was announced last week. The club inherited debts from 2017. The funds from sponsorship and season ticket sales that should have funded 2018 were used to service the debt. Added to that was the increase in players’ contracts. The board could have made the choice not to increase or even reduce the size and quality of the squad but that would have almost certainly resulted in relegation, reduced crowds and most likely an even worse financial situation.
We first encountered cash flow problems in May but donations from the board allowed all wages to be paid and the Rochdale home fixture got us through much of June. At this point the board knew that funds were likely to run dry but were exploring funding from various sources. We received a negative response from these sources last week with the current account balance not sufficient to pay the staff wages. We do not have an overdraft facility. Based on crowds of 1200 and no serious unexpected outgoings, such as ground repairs, we faced the prospect of requiring an additional £100,000 to see out the season. In the short term a board member has loaned the club £50,000 that has given breathing space. Increased crowds and any other event or income streams notrelated to match days can eat in to this £50,000. We have set up an easy fundraising page including trying to entice a virtual crowd; we have a sportsman’s dinner and pop concert on the horizon, community club raffle, our partnership with our betting company, lottery and Super Lotto, amateur rugby finals and a sponsored bike ride which will all go to help the reduction. I realise that we are guilty sometimes of targeting the same people over and over but we are all in this together and all want a strong Barrow Rugby.
In the medium term we are going to improve our planning and with that our income streams from a wide range of sources. I want the club to get stronger and stronger year by year. It is essential that we retain our Championship status but beyond that we aim to grow. As the income streams improve so does the standard on the pitch. We will look to other stronger clubs and use them as a benchmark but ultimately it will be us that are the example for other clubs to follow. We will engage with the Rugby Football League and establish the realistic Super League entry criteria and put plans in place to achieve it. This may be wishful thinking but no club that ever aimed low achieved high.
In order to grow we need the backing of the public. The board is small and it needs to expand. We need to establish all the roles required for a successful organisation and we need lines of accountability. Once all the roles have been identified then we plan to advertise for volunteers to fill the vacancies. We need help to increase the income streams. I’ve heard lots of fantastic ideas from the fans of the club but what we need is ownership. The board will give support but you don’t have to become a board member to own and manage one of these great ideas to fruition. I’m sure the Supporters Trust can help in this direction.
Communication will improve. We are committed to holding a public meeting in the very near future and I offer the invitation to send me a private message and I will try to answer any unanswered questions that you may have and produce a public “Frequently Asked Questions” response if I get the same things repeated. This isn’t my club or the board’s club; this is the club of the town. The board is just in the privileged position of steering the club at this point in time.
If everyone is going in the same direction then I am confident that there is a bright future. We have a tremendously talented and dedicated playing and coaching team, backroom staff and volunteers that devote so much time and effort and supportersand sponsors that are passionate and genuinely care about the club. Believe me, with the town’s backing, there is every reason to be optimistic.