After an unprecedented week during which we all started to fully realise the very real threat posed by COVID-19, I believe it is the right time to tell you what we are doing to try to ensure that we still have a Club to play for and support in a post pandemic world.
A month ago we were easing our way through a busy rugby diary, planning for our seasonal finales, supporting our various national teams, squeezing into the bar for a few jars under Sam’s watchful eye, enjoying the food served up by our excellent chef and event manager Johnny, and filling the Oaklands Pavilion diary with numerous bookings. All of this has come to end for this season and the foreseeable future.
On Friday 20th March the RFU called an end to the 2019/20 season for all levels apart from the Gallagher Premiership. What that means for the 2nd XV’s push for promotion is unclear at present. The RFU has promised a decision by mid-April, when things may become a little clearer. Our hugely successful M&J section will miss closing out another great year at all age groups and the U15s will be deprived of a much-anticipated tour to France. Such disappointments pale in the face of ensuring we all follow the Government’s advice and survive to enjoy our rugby as a community at Oaklands again.
Financially, 2020 was proving to be tough before the full effects of COVID-19 kicked in and the rugby season was officially ended by the RFU. Poor weather in late January and February saw 3 out of 5 weekends with no activity at all; no activity, no bar, no income makes paying the bills challenging. Now having cancelled all the remaining senior and M&J home games and training sessions this season and having to postpone the Ladies’ Lunch and losing almost every planned hiring of the Pavilion in the calendar over the next 3 months, the Club’s income has and will continue to take a massive blow.
To assure the future for CRFC and The Oaklands Pavilion, the Senior Committee have taken steps to stabilise the situation as best they can. Even with nothing going on, the Club still costs around £6,000 a month to run and the Club does not have extensive cash reserves. To try and reduce our outgoings, we have requested a repayment holiday from the RFU against the loan we took out for the Legacy Project building work. Likewise, we are seeking rent/rate relief from Chichester District Council.
Our car park provides much welcome income that will see us through to May when we usually receive annual club sponsorship. How much sponsorship and when it will be available is not as straightforward as it was last year.
Oaklands Pavilion remains available for specific, controlled use and we are working with The Summer Berry Company to help feed their workers to ensure that they are available to pick the fruit we will want to buy and maintain the supply chain.
With tight cash management, good cost control and access to government grants we are hoping to ride the storm. When we do get going again, whenever that may be, it’s going to be a long, tough haul but I’ve no doubt that the spirit of rugby will prevail and together we will do it.
We will keep you updated as things unfold. In the meantime, if anyone feels they could offer any assistance to help us through the coming weeks and months please get in touch.
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Stay safe, stay healthy
Yours in rugby
Gareth Webb, President