Our Chief Executive, Tarquin McDonald, has written to MPs within our region to call for further help to support sport. Today we ask you to do the same.
The letter detailed that the ongoing restrictions on team sports are having a significant and detrimental impact on communities up and down the country and that although “elite sport” is being allowed to continue behind closed doors, we continue to suffer a considerable monthly deficit – not least because of the loss of matchday revenue.
In his letter he shared that we are extremely grateful to the Government for indicating that financial support will be provided, and – like many other clubs – our priority now is to be able to re-open our gates once again to supporters.
On 1st October we had been due to do so (in a limited manner) but understandably the Government then struck a note of caution, due to rising infection rates.
The letter shared our view that we welcome the recent establishment of a Sports Technology and Innovation Group, formed of sport, health and tech experts, to work with sport bodies to explore high-tech solutions to get fans safely back into venues. Bath Rugby hopes to be able to contribute to this Group’s work, and we are writing to the Government separately in this regard.
With a national lockdown now in place, we recognise that there is little prospect of being able to welcome spectators to our ground this side of Christmas and so felt it important to draw the attention of our regional MPs to the work Bath Rugby does in Bath, Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset.
Although we are based in Bath, our reach is much wider – with more than 9,000 children a year engaging with us via our community delivery through our Club and our Foundation. We deliver coaching and outstanding outreach programmes in 196 schools across the wider south-west area. In addition, our Bath Rugby Academy delivers a training programme to engage young people and unearth future talent at 31 schools within our region.
We remain committed to continuing with this outreach activity; however we cannot ignore the fact that our ability to provide these opportunities is increasingly at risk due to the issues Tarquin outlined further above. Quite simply, we cannot sustain such a comprehensive programme of outreach if we remain unable to undertake our core activities as a Premiership Rugby Club. It is the latter which gives us the resources and capacity to spread our wings beyond Bath.
Tarquin also shared that our deep concerns also extend to our 102 grass roots rugby clubs within our region who rely on income derived from the subscription fees of their playing members and from hosting events in their clubhouses. These clubs have no understanding as to when they will be able to play again, nor when they will be able to start to revive even a small part of their vital incomes.
We believe that there is a real risk that a continued absence of matches will result in players drifting away from the game, particularly teenage and older players, who may drift away from sport altogether especially given the time of year and challenges around locations and opportunities for sporting participation.
Sadly, we now exist in a time where there are doubts as to whether some of these clubs can weather this storm with the risk of a damaging legacy of reduced participation in your constituency and knock-on impacts on the health and wellbeing of your constituents. As part of our response to Covid-19, Tarquin shared that we are actively working to understand how we can meaningfully support local clubs across our region.
He closed his letter with appreciation that the future of Bath Rugby is not an immediate consideration for regional MPs, but his hope is that they will recognise the knock-on effects if we were unable to return to some form of normality in the near future.
We are being represented locally by Wera Hobhouse and asked for our regional MPs to also draw our concerns to the attention of the Government.
We therefore ask you our supporters to do the same, if you feel able to do so. Please write to your MP and help us to gain support for sport.