Rugby League: Rochdale Hornets could become a privately-owned club
Date published: 19 November 2019
Rochdale Hornets logo
Rochdale Hornets Rugby Club could become privately-owned, following an approach from a consortium including current Hornets’ president, Paul Ormerod and four former directors of Swinton Lions.
The plan would see Rochdale Hornets move from a supporter-owned organisation to a privately-owned club, but the club have stated that this would be implemented only with the backing and future involvement of the club’s fans.
As a result, the club have notified members of a series of engagement sessions starting this week, which may continue over several weeks.
There have been extensive talks between Hornets' CEO, Steve Kerr, the current board of directors and the consortium, led by Andy Mazey, including Tony Sheridan, Richard Heyes, Peter Smith and Paul Ormerod.
The consortium have made it clear from the outset that there are no plans to move Rochdale Hornets to Manchester, and agreements are in place to formally safeguard the name and location of the club.
The consortium believes there is significant potential for a semi-professional rugby league club in the town that can be harnessed successfully moving forward.
A statement from the current directors of the club reads: “Last year members gave the board at the time a mandate to explore alternative ownership and funding models that would more effectively secure the long-term future of Rochdale Hornets – that opportunity is now.
“Conversations with the consortium have been taking place for a couple of weeks, and include plans to invest in the first two years, and restructure the club to take it forward beyond what will be an uncertain time for the whole sport at the end of the current TV deal in 2021. Overall, they have presented a five-year plan for development that will make the club sustainable over the long-term.
“At present the club is losing money and struggling to raise sufficient revenue to meet its obligations. The club needs investment, resource and a strategic vision to build value in the product, the team and the sport in the town.
“The co-operative model has served us well, but it's unsustainable. Given the size of our membership we have reached the extreme of our limitations, and we are currently over-reliant on RFL distribution and the generosity of benefactor loans to make us viable.
“The consortium is committed to providing coach Matt Calland with a budget to make us competitive in League One, with the longer-term intention of becoming a viable, sustainable Championship club. To do that, the consortium's investment will run across all areas of the club - including non-playing activities and infrastructure. All investment from the consortium will be used for strengthening the club - not servicing its debts.
“The board has a responsibility to do what it feels best secures the club’s long-term viability and delivers future success. It feels that the proposal received from the consortium is exciting and has lots of potential to grow Rochdale Hornets into a club that all members and fans can be proud of - in a way that can't be achieved under the current ownership model.”
Hornets chief executive Steve Kerr added: “The vision set out by Andy Mazey is a sustainable one, which will require everyone’s buy-in. There will be no magic wand, only a promise to do things right, grow our community profile and develop all areas of the business.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Rochdale Hornets, and I encourage the membership to keep an open mind and actively participate in the engagement sessions planned for the coming weeks.”
Members are encouraged to contact the club via the email@example.com should they wish to ask questions.
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