On the eve of the Cornish Pirates first home pre-season fixture, Chairman of the Board Ian Connell set out the strategic priorities for the club during the coming season and sent out a resounding message to the whole of Cornwall as to why the Stadium development planned for Threemilestone must happen, writes Dick Straughan.
Mr Connell expects a decision on the venture to be made before Christmas, subject to the linked supermarket development gaining approval and reminded doubters of the scheme that “not one penny of tax payers money will be involved” in building the Stadium.
He reiterated that the future of the Cornish Pirates is “definitely in Truro” and added that the objective of the club is to be playing in a Stadium in Truro by September 2016.
He continued: “The business and economic case for the Cornish Pirates playing in a new Stadium in Truro is irrefutable. It is a no brainer. Based on last year`s attendances we would expect an immediate rise of 50-75% by relocating to Truro.”
“We believe that by relocating to the commercial centre of Cornwall we will attract bigger levels of sponsorship and investment. This move is vital to the retention of top level rugby in Cornwall.”
Since taking over the leadership of the Cornish Pirates following the decision of former owner Dicky Evans to sell the club, Ian Connell has been working hard with the new Board to develop a three-year vision to take them up to the start of the 2016-17 season.
In the shorter term the club has four major priorities for the coming season which include securing an agreement on the Stadium. Should this be further delayed or denied he explained that there is a Plan B.
“We would want to find an acceptable solution to source an alternative stadium in Truro in which we could play,” he said. “As a club we want to leave a rugby legacy in Penzance in any case and would look to work with the Amateurs and assist in the return of community rugby to the town.”
Alongside the Stadium objective Mr.Connell expects the Cornish Pirates to remain a Championship level club. “This is an absolute given and is completely non-negotiable,” he said.
The Pirates board also want the club to remain pro-active in continuing to develop a vibrant programme of Community based rugby in Cornwall in partnership with the Cornwall RFU whom he described as “fully supportive”.
Crucially though and with the central funding of Dicky Evans now over Ian Connell stressed the need for the club to remain financially viable.
The club has several schemes in the pipeline to boost matchday revenue and attendances but he explained: “As a club we have a successful seven-figure turnover. If we screw up on that we will lose money pretty quickly.”
“There is no question that we have to balance the books. We cannot run a deficit business and must remain solvent. Negotiations are set to open on a new RFU deal for the 2016-17 season and we will be seeking an increase in central funding to the clubs.”
The Cornish Pirates play National One side Rosslyn Park at the Mennaye Field tomorrow (3pm).
Cornish Pirates: 15 Sam Marland, 14 Kieran Goss, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Rheon James, 11 Alex Ducker, 10 Kyle Moyle, 9 Tom Kessell;1 Paul Andrew, 2 Aaron Carpenter, 3 Adam Jamieson, 4 Will Carrick-Smith, 5 Darren Barry, 6 Chris Morgan (c), 7 Alex Cheesman, 8 Laurie McGlone.
Replacements: Tom Channon, Jamal Ford-Robinson, Will Graulich, Jake Parker, Joe Atkinson, Matt Bolwell, Stuart Townsend, Bertie Hopkin, Alex Dancer.
Rosslyn Park: 15 Charlie Gower, 14 Robbie Martey, 13 Dante Mama, 12 Courteney Morrison, 11 David Vincent, 10 Thomas Whelan, 9 Luke Carter; 1 Aaron Liffchak, 2 Adam Bellamy, 3 Sam Staff, 4 James Inglis (c), 5 William Bowley, 6 Gregor Gillanders, 7 Harry Broadbent, 8 Michael McFarlane.
Replacements: Scott Wright, Richard Palframan, Alex MacKenzie, Richard Boyle, Jamie Harries, Sam Shires, Hugo Ellis, Jack Gash, James John Kilmartin, Dominic Shabbo, Mark Ireland, Kiba Richards, Charles Broughton, Peter Cole, Anthony Hitchcock.
Referee: Shane Lewis (RFU)