Jersey Reds has welcomed the support of Jersey's government in recognising the benefits that professional rugby brings to the Island.
The States of Jersey has confirmed that funding for a number of different projects has been approved by the Minister for Treasury and Resources [ LINK ]. This includes bridge funding of £150,000 to support the Reds during the current season.
Competing in the Greene King IPA Championship, the second tier of English rugby, Jersey Reds has a full-time squad of professional players and coaches, with the club currently ranked third in the 12-team league.
In spite of attracting crowds averaging 1,500 for home games, and a broad base of corporate sponsorship, the costs associated with a professional rugby operation are high. All clubs in the Championship face financial challenges, and the Jersey Reds Board has identified a structural operating deficit of approximately £300,000; this has prompted appeals to sponsors, supporters and the States of Jersey to help tackle this shortfall.
Jersey Reds Chairman Mark Morgan said the approach to the States of Jersey was made following a thorough review of the club's finances, and the introduction of new processes to increase efficiency and eliminate unnecessary expenditure.
"A great deal of work has been carried out, but professional rugby is a costly business, and we approached the States of Jersey to initiate a discussion about the financial benefits to the Island from Jersey Reds," he said. "Analysis which we've commissioned jointly with the States has calculated an overall figure of up to £2.1million per year that stems from Jersey Reds - this includes expenditure by approximately 5,000 visiting supporters who come to the Island across the season, the taxes and other contributions paid by our players, coaches and other employees, and the club's expenditure in travelling to England for games.
"The benefits of rugby aren't purely financial - Jersey Reds also provides recreation for amateur adult players who are part of our Athletic and Women's squads, as well as for hundreds of mini and junior players aged from six to 18.
"We are pleased that the Island's Government has recognised the value of Jersey Reds and the part we play in putting Jersey on the map. Support from the States of Jersey will give us breathing space while we continue to progress our planning towards a longer-term solution to the current operating deficit."
As part of the focus on the future, professional rugby will be part of a review into sustainable sports facilities on the Island; this review was part of the same announcement by the States of Jersey and is being supported by a further £40,000 in funding.
Mark Morgan added: "We look forward to playing an active part in the review, which we hope will provide further recognition of the value of sport, and identify ways in which sporting organisations can work together with the States of Jersey, businesses on the Island and the tourism sector to maximise these benefits."
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