Plans outlining the future direction of Jersey Reds have been shared with Club members at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM).
The initial work of a strategic review into the Club's future and finances were presented to a group of around 100 members at the Jersey Reds Clubhouse at St Peter. This follows a previous EGM in November 2016, where members were told about a significant financial deficit in club accounts which had necessitated a financial restructure involving the securing of £1.5million in capital through a sale-and-leaseback of the Club’s assets.
Jersey Reds Chairman Mark Morgan outlined the key elements of the review, which had been split into three areas of focus.
One of the review groups considered how Jersey Reds could play at the highest possible level while protecting the Club from the associated financial risks. The recommendation was that the Club should aim to carry on competing in the Greene King IPA Championship, using a mix of contracted professional players and an increased number of loan players. These would be young players contracted to Aviva Premiership clubs who would be loaned to a Championship club such as the Reds in order to gain experience and 'game-time' in the next highest level of the professional game.
The removal of risk from the way the Club operated would be achieved by ring-fencing the operations of the 1st team squad from the rest of the club, strict new financial controls and a commitment for transparency with members that will include quarterly updates.
The second review group looked at fund-raising, an essential requirement for the Club to be able to buy back assets covered by the sale-and leaseback deal such as the clubhouse, pavilion, stands, car park and both main pitches at St Peter. The aim is to re-acquire these assets within three years.
Recognising the passion of the members for the club and the strong support for maintaining Jersey Reds as a members' club, it was recommended that fund-raising efforts be focused on harnessing this enthusiasm via a series of projects. This may include a gala 'Rugby Ball' event attracting some of the sport's biggest names, building and selling seats in a new stand at St Peter, a major raffle, the release of VIP memberships and an appeal for donations from supporters via standing orders or one-off bequests.
It was acknowledged that successful fund-raising would rely on the commitment of members to step forward in volunteering to run and help with the various projects. Funds raised will be held in a separate 'asset redemption' account.
The third and final strand of the review focused on maintaining Jersey Reds' position as a leading community sports club in the Channel Islands. This would seek to build on the success of the Club's Mini & Junior section, and the Jersey Reds Athletic amateur side, and seeking to encourage more adult players, including the boosting of women's rugby. Outside of rugby, the club would be looking to broaden its appeal and encourage greater use of facilities.
The Club will be run by a new Governance Board comprising elected officers, representatives from the Amateur/ Mini & Junior sections and other members of the review group who have committed to offering their services on a longer-term basis.
Mark Morgan said: "We have made significant progress in our strategic review, especially considering that the process happened in less than two months and included the festive season. Although it was a shock to members to learn about the Club's financial difficulties in November, there was a huge amount of positive sentiment from members, and that will be crucial as we move forward and work on the details of fund-raising and securing a sustainable future for the Club.
"One of the key elements will be securing the services of sufficient members as volunteers for the various initiatives that are being considered, and I would urge all those who may be able to give up some time to help the Club to contact me."