With clubs now having different levels of membership schemes each season, senior and junior rugby each weekend and sometimes during the week, a club shop, events and a functioning bar, it’s clear that there a several different revenue streams which all are of huge importance to the sustainability of every single club. No matter the number of ways clubs find to create revenue, it seems clear that the game is under pressure financially at the amateur and grassroots level.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for clubs to get the levels of sponsorship they crave - and need. Some, from conversations we have had, have extremely extravagant ideas about how much sponsorship they feel they should be achieving each season - in some cases this is inflated way beyond belief!
We are in a financial environment which means we have to work hard for every penny earned, it doesn't fall into the till and nor should it! Potential sponsors want to know exactly what they are going to be getting, in terms of exposure, from any partnership and rightly so.
Clubs have been known to dress up their offerings, adding a fair amount of seasoning to the realistic situation. This will only lead to broken relationships and communities that don’t support each other due to a frustration on the part of many sponsors.
Be realistic; offer something tangible to your potential sponsors and don’t promise something you can’t pull off! Even if you are far from the levels you would like to get to, start somewhere modest. It’s far better to create long term, sustainable relationships and partnerships as this makes each year’s task much easier to approach.
Be careful when looking at how you are going to achieve the season’s financial goals and don't simply pick up the phone and call the same names as last year. They were the same names the year before that too. And the year before that.
Clearly some have far deeper pockets than others but some will plough money into the club when perhaps they don’t have the financial clout many believe them to have. Their passion and love for the club means they are willing to add the hard earned cash to the pot for the season when asked.
Just make sure we don’t take the piss in this situation! It's too easy and in fact very lazy to rely on those people year in year out when the club should broaden horizons and expand visions to encompass local businesses. If you can find the same income elsewhere then take some time to work out ways to use different channels as those club members are worth their weight in gold and shouldn't be used as a crutch!
Opening hours of club bars are down during the week meaning through any given seven day period, takings are down, as is the alcohol consumption. Gone are the days where you were guaranteed to find one of the ‘stalwarts’ propping up the bar.
It’s good to hear of some clubs re-developing and challenging pubs for the title of ‘the local’ but many aren't due to the time pressures that are already sit on those volunteers on the club rota. Who can blame them for not wanting to commit when family time is so precious? Encourage people to come back into the bar through the week and create something of social importance as this will in turn lead to more numbers during the week. Simple things like weekly quiz nights work!
Some clubs have acknowledged their yearly expenditure needs to be tightened and more importantly tightened relative to the income of the club. Don’t spend money that you know the club doesn't have.
Pretty simple but it's not always adhered to. If it’s going to be hard graft to get those finances back then don’t commit to letting it go! On the back of this point and raising it’s ugly head again is player remuneration.
Clubs with no understanding of their finances who have committed to paying players are suicidal. So many have disappeared. Big, well known clubs that have been around the amateur and grassroots game for years.
It’s dangerous, especially if you don’t have plans of grandeur, reaching the up echelons of the club game. What’s the point of over stretching the club to gain promotion for two seasons to find the club is in dire straits, it folds completely and ends up bottom of the pile or, even worse, vanishes forever?
You want the best local players, yes, we get that but there is also something to be said that the best players are the most loyal clubmen & women giving their all for your club, not those arriving from their fourth club in four seasons. Be creative in your offering to them so that hard cash isn’t the be all and end all. (Make sure you look out for our new card this summer. It will be launched very soon. Our Partner Clubs are clear in seeing how it can increase their value to the players and members they have and so might yours!!)
Clubs need to be run like businesses and people need to be able to make informed decisions quickly within the club to ensure that it is possible for it to move swiftly to take advantage of different opportunities and strengths it may have. Don’t just throw money at problems, it solves nothing and more often than not causes more harm than good for the club. Be creative, think outside the box and look at new ways of driving the club forward and offer your club, it’s members, the players and the players of the future a club to be proud of, knowing it addresses financial issues as it should do, for the good of everyone.