Whilst Derek is in Dubai he has asked me to once again write his column – hopefully I’ll do it justice! To quash any rumours before they start, he’s on a family holiday although I wouldn’t put it past him to return with news of further investment in the club in the form of a sheikh!
Both on and off the pitch I thought that Blackpool was a great success. The Club sold 2,000 tickets in advance of the game and, with the money going direct to the club, it was a timely boost to the coffers with so few home games in recent weeks. Again, buy your tickets for any game in advance from the club so that the club benefits financially.
The players all spoke of the fantastic atmosphere throughout the game and the noise that came from our ‘adopted’ North Stand.
I certainly hope that you all enjoyed the day and that you managed to get to the Manchester Bar to raise further funds for Team Isaac.
By all accounts, a great time was had by all and early indications are that over £1,000 was raised for the charity from that bar.
I was also privileged to travel with the team to the game. It was a great insight into the professionalism of both the players and the staff in the way that they conducted themselves and to witness firsthand the great work that a number of our volunteers undertake on game day including Frank Taylor, Sean Fairhurst, Cliff Sumner and Thomas Wood. Without them and many others the club would not be the success that it is today. It was also fantastic to see the players, in the changing rooms post match, celebrating the victory and how much it means to them – however, after being held above Jamie Acton’s head amid the players’ celebratory songs, I’ll certainly leave them to it next time! It was also interesting to see the ease upon which Paul Cooke, who has given up a career in rugby union with a club close to promotion, integrated himself into the coaching set up and the work that the coaching team did post game. Again, it shows the commitment and dedication of them to board the coach back and to immediately evaluate the game and work on stats etc to ensure that they could plan the sessions for the days ahead, including an early start on Sunday although only returning to Leigh at gone 11pm. Being involved in professional sport certainly takes over your life!
On that front, it was also great to secure and announce the signing of Kieron Purtill on the coaching staff for the 2017 season.
You may have spotted that Paul Anderson, the Huddersfield coach, has paid him a big tribute although he’s announced that he’s joining us – that’s testament to how highly he is respected in the game. Recruitment off the field is as important as on it and with Neil, Paul (Anderson), Paul and Kieron (with the possibility of Micky Higham for the 2018 season) I’m sure we have, and will have, a coaching set up the envy of most clubs, including Super League.
I hope that you have also seen the apologies made by both Gareth Hock and Jamie Acton. The club simply won’t stand for a repeat of that indiscipline and both players are facing club disciplinary action as well as action from the RFL.
Derek, in his column last week, explained that he is stepping up his investment to realise the dream, promotion to Super League and Challenge Cup success at Wembley.
Such commitment and generosity is simply staggering and can only be applauded.
But for me it is crucial that the club does not become totally reliant on a single benefactor. We have seen the consequences of this too many times in sport, with Bolton being a recent example.
It is crucial that the club builds upon the foundations off the field and that it is run both in a professional manner and ultimately as a business.
I am not naive enough to state that the club can have such a talented playing squad in such a fantastic facility and be self-financing (although in Super League with average crowds of 5,000 this would be the case).
However, it can and will be in a better financial position as the off-field team continue to make significant strides off the pitch, with the highly successful golf day being a recent example, to hopefully lessen the burden on Derek.
To that end, I again implore the town, local business community, Leigh Sports Village and the Council to support the club in its quest for promotion.
Super League would have a significant positive impact on the town on many fronts and it should not be for one man to foot the bill and to carry that burden to achieve that success.
So if you’ve not been to a game this season, get along, if you’re a business in the local area support the club in any way possible, for example, by taking advertising, that starts as little as £200, or by booking hospitality on game day for clients or customers, and help the club prosper.
In recent times fans have often debated the chicken and egg scenario – that the club should invest in better players that will result in increased attendances that will then support further investment in the playing squad etc. However, most were not naive to realise that this is the model that has resulted in the failure of many clubs.
Now with Derek’s investment and guarantee of further investment for both the 2017 and 2018 seasons the town needs to support the club.
This incredible investment along with the re-introduction of promotion and relegation is our best opportunity to secure promotion (which could potentially be our last should circumstances change).
So do whatever you can to make the opportunity a reality!
I am fully aware that increasing crowds and commercial revenues as well as investment by our partners, including the Sports Village and Council, gives Derek the comfort and inspiration to keep investing in the club.
And most importantly, enjoy the ride. Some may have long forgotten that we used to play at a very tired Hilton Park and then at the Sports Village with a skeleton staff in front of crowds of just over 1,000 with a precarious financial situation.
Now we are playing in a top class facility, with a squad containing a number of international stars, in front of more than 3,000 spectators and with a healthy corporate hospitality with both the Premier Club and boxes going from strength to strength.
However, we must never become complacent and I along with the board will do everything within our power to ensure that we make the most of the opportunity, so that the club either becomes self financing or so that the support it needs is as low as possible.
We need to make sure the club isn’t reliant on one man and that, should it be necessary, another businessman or consortium can plug the gap to maintain the status quo.
As, let’s face it, there are not many Derek Beaumonts out there!