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Coronavirus Kent: Canterbury Rugby Club launch cost-cutting measures to ensure future

Chairman Giles Hilton says Canterbury Rugby Club are doing everything in their power to ensure they have a future when sport resumes.

The ongoing Coronavirus crisis led to the RFU last week bringing a premature end to the season for all clubs operating below the Gallagher Premiership.

The club, who play in National League 1, have also been forced to postpone several significant fund-raising events prompting Mr Hilton and president Greg Mayne to issue a stark message to supporters.

Canterbury Rugby club chairman Giles Hilton
Canterbury Rugby club chairman Giles Hilton

The pair revealed that the loss of revenue from events such as their City Lunch, May Ball and final two home matches – a sum estimated to be between £80,000 and £100,000 – could have dire financial repercussions for the club and its very survival.

A PayPal account set up for donations has already raised £10,000 and although Mr Hilton admits the situation undeniably remains challenging, he is optimistic the club – celebrating its 90th anniversary season –will come through.

He explained: “No-one knows how long, or how much more of an impact the situation is going to have on us all but everyone (at the club) is working as hard as they can to safeguard our future.

“There is no insurance out there, as people are finding out, so the only option is to shut down and cut costs in whatever way we can.

“We didn’t take the decision to put out the statement we did lightly, we felt people needed to know and the response has been encouraging, we’ve had donations from all sorts of people, from all over the world.”

The club have already started paring back on players’ accommodation – they rent a number of properties for that purpose – and Mr Hilton says they will probably also have to forego work on the pitch this summer.

He explained:”Dan Smart (one of the players) has gone back to New Zealand and we’re at that time of the year when players do move on so we’ve had a bit of a switch around in terms of the accommodation.

“We’re going to cut back on pitch reparation and irrigation which would normally take place during the summer.

“It’s not ideal but the pitches will have had two months’ less wear due to the season ending early and by doing that we estimate we can save around £10,000. I would also imagine we won’t be buying any new kit.”

Canterbury chairman Giles Hilton celebrates beating Chester in last season's National 2 play-off to win promotion Picture: Kent Sports Images
Canterbury chairman Giles Hilton celebrates beating Chester in last season's National 2 play-off to win promotion Picture: Kent Sports Images

Mr Hilton says the club plan to retain as many of the playing staff as possible but admits planning is hard when they don’t know when, or in which league they might be playing in 2020/21.

He also hopes the club’s sponsors – who contribute around £250,000 a year – will be in a position to continue their support.

He added: “We simply don’t know what we’re heading into, I refer to it as the guaranteed unknown.

“We don’t as yet know what the league structure will be and we probably won’t until mid-April.

“My suspicion is that they will replicate the positions as they were at the stage they froze the leagues. That would mean us being relegated but we can live with that.

“Whatever happens, we are working unbelievably hard to mitigate what is going on and we believe we have enough support within the community to ensure that we get to the start date, whenever that is, still afloat.

“It’s going to be touch and go but we’re hoping that the people we trade with will be sympathetic to our plight. We also have some fantastic sponsors who we hope will continue to stand by us.”

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent


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