As Chairman I thought I would give you an update of where the Club is at the moment particularly after The RFL announcement regarding the season.
First of all regarding return to play in 2020. I personally think The RFL have made the best decision in all the circumstances. We as a Club along with most other Clubs said we did not want to play behind closed doors so that has been ruled out for Championship. At the moment unless things change we are looking to have crowds from October but with social distancing. We believe that our stadium can accommodate a sufficient crowd to make this feasible although certainly not ideal. We can get the numbers in to accommodate our average gates but the crowd will be spaced out around the whole of the stadium not just in specific areas. It will be all ticket games and tickets will likely be for a particular part of the stadium so book early if you want to be in a particular place before it is sold out. We clearly have not worked out the system yet but this is an early warning of the likely format. Also there will possibly have to be a one way system which may be inconvenient but the only alternative. We have 2 months to prepare and 2 months for things to change!!
There are stringent government guidelines which we have only just been provided with where we have to satisfy everybody that we can comply if we want to play. We are presently canvassing views of players about training and playing as clearly they may have holidays booked in what would have been the close season, they may have job issues or indeed other issues that would cause difficulties. So as a Club we want to play in the Cup competition proposed in October and November which would hopefully give us a minimum of 6 games. However we have plenty to sort out. It is our job to sort it if at all possible as after all we are a Rugby League Club and therefore we should want to play rugby league. We will try to keep you updated as and when things become clearer.
We have opened the bar on the last two Sundays with background music and last Sunday with some limited food.Also clearly we have run a weekly fundraising draw where we are simply asking supporters to buy a minimum one ticket at £2 every week to help the Club keep going on a stable footing. The draw will have made over £15,000 by this week which is brilliant and the bar has had limited success where we are dependent on the weather. If we are to succeed we need to try to keep these going and we need your support it is as simple as that.
Please note, due to other commitments we are unable to open this Sunday but plan to resume this on August 2nd
I have spoken to a couple of supporters who told me they thought some people had stopped buying tickets for a couple of reasons and I am glad I was told this so let me clarify a couple of issues in the hope our draw is boosted and people support the bar.
First of all with the help of furlough we are presently financially stable as we had already cleared debts and are run in a stable way anyway. We have paid the players their contracts as that is what we promised to do when they signed. They have not had any match payments and have bought tickets in the draw every week and indeed this week sponsored the draw so we are all in this together. Whether they play at the Club in 2021 or not they all know that Batley Bulldogs has treated them more than fairly this year and hopefully every year. All players are welcome back to the Club anytime even if with another Club and hopefully they feel welcome when they do. Again we are delighted with the players attitude this year.
So any fundraising is to ensure we can go forward and survive 2021 which is the time when it will be difficult. As yet we do not know our financial distribution from the Rfl through Sky monies but from what we have been advised we believe we as a Club will be £48,000 worse off so that is the starting point before we take into account reduced income in all other areas including of course gates, bar and food sales ,sponsorship etc etc. So we have a shortfall to say the least. We are cutting our cloth but there is not a lot of cloth left to cut. Thankfully it seems at the moment players everywhere are being realistic regarding finances which helps a lot. However we certainly cannot afford to make a £48,000+ loss. So we have a job to do and we are doing it but we do need help.
In my updates I have mentioned about us painting everywhere and doing works round the ground as we seek to make a fresh start. We are also having new ladies and gents toilets, a new gym and possibly refurbishing hospitality boxes and side windows in the Glen Tomlinson Stand. Does this mean we are financially well off or just diverting monies from spending on players? It does not.
Much of the minor works done at the Club are done by volunteers, directors , an ex-player and sponsors and even much of the materials are kindly supplied by sponsors and directors. So at the most it has cost us a few hundred pounds but the works done have been outstanding.
Then we get to the more substantial works done at the Club. These were planned and in place well before lockdown as when you try to get works done for no cost I can assure you it takes time. The works are done with the help of superb sponsors and directors. In addition major works have been done by me doing major legal works for clients I have known for years who have no connection or allegiance to the Club at all but do work either as a favour to me or instead of paying legal fees. Hence an unusual situation perhaps but one which has helped the Club to improve the stadium for over 20 years.
So the bottom line is that no money is being used from the playing budget to do all this excellent works and we are not cash rich.
Every Pound that is donated to the draw or behind the bar or in any other fundraiser is going to ensure we get a decent team on that pitch in 2021 and we don’t go bankrupt doing it.
I previously said we are not exactly sure of finances next year but every week we feel more comfortable about an aspect of our finances we look to sign another player for next year. I can tell you now recruitment is going well and the more successful the draw each week the more comfortable we feel to take a risk despite the uncertainty to sign another player. We are not at this stage making announcements about players for 2021 as we are concentrating on hopefully playing in 2020. Not everyone will agree with that but that is what we have decided rightly or wrongly.
However the success of the draw has helped us to feel comfortable in starting to plan for 2021 and the plans so far are going very well. Our next target is to get to £20,000 for the draw as quickly as possible and to raise what we can over the bar so please help us to do this and boost player recruitment further for next year. If you call at the Club I am happy to answer any further questions but I do hope you can see that we do definitely need your help.