After four months of the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down, things are starting to move along in the right direction. Therefore, I thought I would give you an update of the machinations to date.
During this period we have been looking for ways of funding our business in the absence of any income from rugby, conference and banqueting events and some rentals over the past 4 months:
• We have managed to secure a number of grants: £2,500 from YRFU, £3,000 from Huddersfield Common Good Trust, £10,000 from Sport England, £500 from NatWest Rugby Force and finally, the Government grant of £25,000, after reassessing our rateable value. Giving us a grand total of £41,000.
• We have also secured an £10,000 interest free loan from the RFU as well as the £50,000 “Bounce Back” loan giving a grand total of £60,000. However, like all loans, they must be paid back.
• The appeal to the Club members has been a great success and very encouraging. A grand total in the region of £26,500 was raised. This included a great effort from the players and supporters alike raising over £3,500 with Gaz Lewis’ Burpee Challenge.
• Don’t forget, you can still raise funds for the Club through the “EasyFunding” app or website. This process contributes a percentage of your purchase price for any on-line purchases you make with selected retailers such as Amazon or M&S and it doesn’t cost you a penny.
• The income received, will help with the day to day running of the club, payment of wages and the general upkeep of the facility for the uncertain months ahead.
• Regarding our grounds, during this period our contractors have managed to get the pitches seeded and with the help of our volunteers we have managed to keep the grounds looking presentable.
What’s next commercially?
As you are aware, the Club staff have been on furlough since March and the Club has been managed by the Management Committee and a number of volunteers. The Furlough scheme will reduce in value during September and October and is due to finish at the end of October.
We are looking to bring back the staff from Monday 3rd August on a part-time basis. Our office staff will cover Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and our ground staff will cover Tuesdays and Thursdays, thus giving us a 5 day presence at the Club. This will enable the team to build up the business once again as more restrictions are eased.
Looking forward to the opening of the hospitality part of our business, we have trialled an App for the purchase of drinks and food (table service only, no cash etc.) which worked pretty well once we got the hang of it!
Government guidelines state: Indoor gatherings should only occur in groups of up to 2 households (including support bubbles). Outdoor gatherings should only occur in groups of up to 2 households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most 6 people from any number of households.
Therefore, at the moment for indoor gatherings, it can be a maximum of 6 people per table from 2 households only, socially distancing with at least 1 metre+ between groups. With outdoor gatherings, we can have up to 6 people from different households, either standing or sitting in a socially distanced group. Therefore, we realise that it is our outside space that needs utilising as best we can.
With outdoor gatherings in mind and looking to the future, we have purchased a marquee (10 metres x 6 metres) with lighting and heating which can be erected either on the balcony or in the gardens. This can be used for all sorts of events mainly in the spring, summer and early autumn months, especially with outdoor gatherings being preferable at this time.
We have also purchased state of the art electro-static clensing gun. The same technology that is currently used by Virgin Airlines and Ryanair. This technique uses persistent safe chemicals, which continue to act on surfaces for up to 28 days, even between uses. This means our facility has an extra layer of protection, protecting members from cross contamination. Hand sanitiser dispensers have also been installed around the facility for general use. We have also established one way systems for toilet use.
When we re-open for the membership, “Customer Guidance” will be issued. This will be supported by the NHS Test and Trace. We will assist this service by keeping a temporary record of our customers and visitors for 21 days and will respond to requests for that data if needed. Everything will be in place for the safety and well being of our members.
As for our function suite, we are now able, In-line with Government guidelines, to host weddings and receptions of up to 30 people. However, the numbers for private parties are unclear, so we are staying with the 30 people maximum until we deduce otherwise.
Unfortunately, we have very little in the pipeline at the moment as most events have chosen to cancel due to the current restrictions and this is one of the reasons for bringing back our staff. However, we are hopeful that our Christmas party nights can go ahead even if slightly reduced.
Our property portfolio has taken a hit during COVID-19 and we have lost a number of tenants who have not been able to return and quite a number who are still on a “Rent Holiday”. We will be meeting with these companies to discuss future rentals as businesses start to re-open.
What’s next with sports?
Sports are now starting to return in some shape or form:
• Senior Rugby started training on Thursday 23rd July with a long awaited introduction to our new backs and skills coach, the legendary “Springbok” Andre Snyman.
The “start up windows” from the RFU for the commencement of rugby are:
i. 3rd October 2020 (full season, 30 matches with no slip weeks)
ii. 28th November 2020 (half season, home or away, 15 matches – plus 7 against either top or bottom half of table depending where we finish. A total of 22 matches)
iii. 30th January 2021 (half season, home or away, 15 matches)
iv. There is NO relegation from our league next season due to league restructuring.
• The HRUFC Bowling Club has started social bowling and also the members are cutting the green twice weekly. They are using a single point booking system, run by the members.
• The HRUFC Road Runners are looking to start their campaign from the club grounds.
• The Borough Club are looking to commence playing social snooker when the club is open during office hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They will use a single point booking system, run by the members.
• The Huddersfield Dragons Hockey Club have also commemcd training with the hope of a September start to their season.
• The Squash Club are also ready to commence social squash. They are using a single point booking system, run by the members.
Please note: All our associate clubs are working within their Sports and the Governments guidelines. They are also providing Risk Assessments and their own Governance.
Our membership have again rallied to the call with many members paying their subscriptions on time or earlier than they usually do. Our thanks to you all, it really is appreciated.
Thanks must also go to Dereck Tasker and Terry Savage for their work with the grants and loans. I’m sure you’ll all agree they’ve done a sterling job.
We would also thank the RFU and YRFU for their continued support and advice.
A special mention must go to our Lockwood Volunteers (LoVo’s) for the works done around the site. Also to Roman Santar for the cutting and watering of our pitches, a great job done.
As always stay safe and well until we see each other again in the not too distant future.
Mark H Birch (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chairman – Huddersfield RUFC