On Thursday 6th November, the same day that Nottingham celebrated one of its greatest ever sporting heroes by unveiling the Brian Clough statue, it became apparent that one of the city’s longest established sporting institutions was in grave danger. The Nottingham Rugby Club chairman Geoff Huckstep was forced to issue a call to arms to the club’s supporters, the message being quite simply ‘save your team’.
The club is in dire financial straits and needs to raise as much as £150,000 before Christmas to ensure its survival to the end of the season.
Mr Huckstep said: “We need to get the support of our fans. We will be looking at doing some promotions for certain games”. The major reasons for the club’s financial malaise are the need to cover the cost of renting Meadow Lane from Notts County Football Club, and a £300,000 land deal with a property developer falling through earlier this year.
Former players and staff have spoken out at their dismay at the club’s current predicament with former Nottingham and England full-back Simon Hodgkinson stating “I will give them as much support as I can. It would be dreadful if the worst happened.”
Indeed, Nottingham Rugby club needs as much support as they can get and the club’s website has drawn up a five point plan underlining the ways to help save the club; to donate money, buy shares, advertise with Nottingham rugby, sponsor Nottingham Rugby or enter into the club’s lotto draw. The club is also having a ‘Save Our Club’ Christmas party on December 15th and have even taken a leaf out of Nottingham University Football Club’s book and have stripped off for a fundraising naked calendar.
It remains to be seen whether these measures will be enough to save the club, but there could be a lifeline for Nottingham Rugby with the possibility of the formation of a 12 team championship and with it a share in a 3.5 million pound Sky television deal. Credit has to go to the players and backroom staff at this difficult time, many of whom have taken pay cuts, and it is a credit to the club’s attitude that they remain 3rd in the National League 1 table. Nottingham fans can only hope that their own and the club’s endeavours will be enough.