Bad weather is losing Gwent’s rugby clubs cash
10:10am Thursday 31st January 2013 in News
‘LOSING MONEY’: Ray Sulway, chairman of Garndiffaith Rugby Club, says the bad weather has affected the fixture list
THE terrible weather has hammered Gwent’s rugby clubs’ finances, with some estimating losses in the region of £14,000 and others describing it as potentially the worst disruption they’ve ever had.
WILL BAIN, NEIL BELLIS and OLIVER CLARK look at the problems the clubs are facing.
WITH snow, frozen and subsequently waterlogged pitches, a raft of games have fallen victim to the weather.
It has not only caused players to be left kicking their heels, and headaches for fixture secretaries trying to reschedule the games, but has also hit local clubs’ coffers hard.
With fixtures falling foul of the weather gate receipts from ticket sales are lost, but perhaps more significantly so are the takings in the rugby club bar, the lifeblood of most local sides.
Glyndwr Thomas, club director at Nantyglo RFC, said: “Our last game was four weeks ago.
“We have to play the cup matches before ordinary matches and this is going to put us even further behind.
“We have lost revenue from home games because the bar is usually full when we play. It has cost us between £13,000 and £14,000 over the four weeks.
“It has been like this before in the 1979-80 season and we had exactly the same problems then,” he said.
At Brynmawr RFC the picture was similar.
Committee member Robert Kershaw said: “Our seniors haven’t played since January 12 and have only had four games since October 20. We have a backlog of five games.
“We won’t get any Saturday games back now because we have to play them before the internationals in mid-week.
“We were scheduled to play Abergavenny last weekend, which would be a big gate because it is a local derby, but it got cancelled, which means we have to play that game on a Thursday instead. That means we are going to lose money off the bar and off the gate.”
At Newbridge, one of the region’s most famous clubs, a freak flood has only added to the already difficult financial situation.
Club director Idris McCarthy said: “Because of the weather the takings in the bar are down and we have had to cancel lots of the evening events which we had planned. We think the weather has cost us around £10,000-12,000.”
A WRU ruling that cup games must take precedence and be played before any league games appears to have created an even greater backlog of fixtures.
Pontypool United, for example, have been trying to get their Swalec Plate fixture with Pill Harriers on for the last few weeks.
United have barely played since mid-November owing to a combination of weather and Autumn International rugby for Wales, which means the clubs don’t play.
Head coach Steffan Jones said: “Without rugby there is not a great deal at the club so people don’t use it. If we cannot use our field, that takes more revenue out of the club. This weather is not ideal at all, really.” Harriers chairman Brian Cromwell agreed. “Without the rugby there’s no real revenue coming in and yet we’re paying out for the guys to be able to train by hiring out sports halls and all-weather pitches.
“We’ve only played twice since the end of October and haven’t had a home game since December 2. Our cup ties, first with Croesyceiliog and now with Pontypool United, have been delayed, so we will now be playing games in the week where we don’t get the same takings as on a weekend.” It was a similar story at Talywain, where the club have kept the heating on after suffering 20 burst pipes the last time they had severe weather. The outlay isn’t being matched by money coming in due to the loss of games.
Chairman Jeff Clutterbuck said: “We own everything here, the pitch, the clubhouse, etc, so we rely very heavily on our home games to run the club. It’s week to week at the moment, we’ve probably lost around £7,500 just in bar takings so far.”
Neighbours Garndiffaith estimated that they’re losing around £800 with every home game they miss.
Chairman Ray Sulway said: “You don’t get the people hanging around and having a drink after the midweek games because they need to shoot off because of work.
“Why can’t we play early on Saturdays ahead of the Welsh games?” The frustration continued at Caldicot RFC, where club secretary Keith Mellons described the situation as “a nightmare”.
“The frustrating thing is we could have played a few home matches, but because the cup takes precedence we had to try to rearrange that game every time and that was cancelled three times before we played it.
“Normally we would just play the games on a Friday night, but currently we have three or four floodlights out and we can’t replace the bulbs because the ground is too wet to put scaffolding on.
“It has had big implications for the running of the club. We operate on a tight budget and if we are not getting anyone in then we are not getting income.
“On Saturday we took about £350 but on a match day we would normally get £1,500-plus. This is the worst that I can remember in terms of cancelled fixtures.
“It is the biggest disruption we have had for a long time, if ever.”
There were positives for some clubs though.
Armies of volunteers have helped make sure Cross Keys’ home games have been on by helping lug the covers on and off the Pandy Park pitch, while Newport RFC committee member Mike Dams said bar takings in Rodney Hall ahead of the Dragons’ clash with the Ospreys had helped cover the loss of their Friday-night cup game with Bonymaen.
And at Cwmbran RFC club chairman Jeff Scrivens said: “Compared to the snow two years ago this hasn’t been too bad. We had to play games all the way into May to make up the fixtures. It is difficult to tell how the weather has affected the bar takings at the moment, but with the start of the Six Nations this week anything we lost over the last few weeks will be made back. Last year the England vs. Wales game was our biggest day for bar takings so we will recoup anything lost soon.”
And at Abergavenny the blow has been softened, like at many clubs, by the strength of their junior section.
Director Mike Aylett said: “It’s been pretty awful in the clubhouse. We are struggling.
“Our takings are down, it is a troubling state of affairs. All our games which are coming up are away games as well so we won’t get much income until February 16.
“One of the things which is really helping at the moment is the junior and mini-section.
They are going from strength to strength and we are having people join every week.”
It’s frustration for our football clubs, too
IT’S BEEN a frustrating picture for local football clubs too.
Chepstow Town FC is one of the clubs in the region which owns all of its facilities – including a clubhouse.
Club chairman, Andrew Gardiner, said: “We had a very successful day on Saturday with the cup, but on the whole the weather hasn’t helped.
We’ve lost four or five games to the weather and are now five games behind most of the other teams in the league.
“We’re lucky in that we have other teams in like the darts team in the week but don’t get me wrong the weather has had an impact on us.
“There have been some Saturdays we’ve not taken £100.
“The rugby club here have perhaps been a bit better at keeping their ex-players involved drinking in their club house before and after a game,’ he said.
Blackwood FC chairman, Malcolm Hudson, said the club’s situation, like a lot of football clubs was slightly different because it shares facilities with another club.
He said: “It means many clubs aren’t as directly affected by things like bar takings as the local rugby sides.
“We have lost quite a few games with the pitches being unplayable because of rain and snow.
“It does mean it can be hard for the players to be motivated to come and train if there are no games and we have got a bit of backlog of games to play.
“They know if they don’t train they won’t play though.”