Happy New Year
The Board would like to start by wishing everyone a Happy New Year and hopes everyone had a great Christmas.
2023 proved to be a challenging year for the club in many ways, not least by the lack of central funding, limited sponsorship and an unusual number of away games to open the season.
This all proved too much early in the season and despite the valiant effort by the limited board members to financially support the club, debts started to mount.
As you are all aware from the C.E.O’s Interview with John Walsh, the HMRC arrears had reached nearly £60k due to missed payments and a sizeable interest rate.
A new board of directors formed mid-season and plans were put in place to start and repay the debt and to strengthen the Club’s position.
Negotiations between HMRC and the Board produced a revised payment plan, which saw us take the debt down from just under £60k to £25k at of the time of writing this message, this payback is inclusive of interest payments. The new board have managed to achieve this and not incur any more HMRC debt during their tenure. This has been achieved with assistance from supporters and sponsors in maintaining a greater than 75 percent average capacity within our sponsors lounge from June till September 2023, plus average gates of around 800-850 people.
The board have worked tirelessly to bring in corporate revenue and this hard work is starting to pay dividends with club assets towards the end of 2023 being utilised several days a week by local businesses. We are eternally grateful to these businesses during the hardest times in 2023 and delighted to see their repeat business into 2024. Bounty Competitions stepped in and gave the club a much-needed cash boost. This helped us clear our feet and ultimately keep the gates open.
Not only did we get the cash lump sum from Bounty, but we have been in receipt of a much-needed monthly income from Calvin, Leanne & Cobi and hope they continue to be part of this Rugby family for the 2024 season.
We would like to thank the away days supporter’s group, which is lead by Shaun and Simon, for their unrelenting fund-raising efforts which have assisted the club and players for many years now.
Another of the Clubs fund raisers is the Whitehaven RL Vice Presidents and we thank them for supporting the coach and team once again.
Whilst we are on the topic of fund raisers we all feel we must give a special mention to several people connected to the club; one is young Arthur Beck who quietly behind the scenes, comes up with fund raising ideas, generating cash for the club. Another is Dennis McKeown who started the club’s go fund me page which generated more than £17k. Finally, a mention to Callum Phillips, supported by team mates, who raffled an expensive watch generating much needed income at that moment in time, showing we were all in this together.
Our Main sponsor for the last 3 seasons has been Liftec Engineering Limited, who we are forever grateful to for their support, however they have chosen not to be the Main sponsor for the 2024 season but have agreed to continue to assist us in other ways.
Going forward to the 2024 season, we have a new Main sponsor, Ortus Energy, who have big plans for the ‘Ortus Rec’ to further assist us in reducing our financial outlay.
Other new sponsors for 2024 include Stork Engineering and Morgan Sindell who along with Ortus Energy have contributed towards the cost of the community programme within local schools and the children’s Rugby holiday camps. Resolve and F D Attire are two more sponsors along with several other local companies currently in sponsorship discussions with club.
A special mention for contributions from local businesses who continue to offer support to the club include Xtreme Fitness, Maxwell Flooring LTD, Kirkland Carpet and Bed Centre, Gosforth Taxi's, Robinsons Accountants, First Image Signs Ltd, The Vet Whitehaven, OConnor Fencing , StamperLloyd and Sizzling Simon's.
This list is in no way exhausted but to each one we thank you. To our supporters we ask that you try and support those who support your Club.
On the field for 2024 we see a lot of new faces as well as some returning old faces and we are excited to see how the season progresses.
Our newly formed community team have been
busy promoting the club in many ways with themed nights at the club, Childrens parties for Halloween and Christmas as well as getting the players to take presents from the Club to the children’s ward.
All local emergency services have attended home games to promote the work they all do in our community, and we plan to continue in this vein for 2024 with more community-based activities, holiday camps, children’s party’s and adult evenings. Please come along and support the efforts being made.
We would like to thank Tommy and his loyal crew who have done a sterling job on little or no budget in maintaining this ground to the superb standard we see on game days.
As you can appreciate there are many other people who assist this Club on a volunteer basis, from helping in hospitality, comparing on match days, organising half time draws, taking tickets on gates, looking after ground safety issues, painting around the ground, manning bars and club shop to name a few. To these people we applaud your help and assistance and are humble enough to appreciate that we couldn’t run the club without all of you.
We raise a glass to toast you all and look forward to seeing you all in 2024
Whitehaven RLFC Board of Directors