Supporter update with Douglas Struth
Managing Director Douglas Struth pens a personal letter to update supporters on the club, our players and people, engagement, competitions, ticketing and our new stadium.
Firstly, I hope that this message finds you and your families as safe and well as possible in these extremely difficult circumstances. At this stage, I wanted to provide you with an update on some of the key activities and initiatives ongoing at the club during the current Covid-19 crisis.
People & Players – As a club, we have now been working safely from home for several weeks and our players are also taking a break from rugby. We all remain determined to work as hard as we possibly can to pull the club through these unprecedented times and we are committed to working with our fans, partners, sponsors and community to come through this stronger - and together.
As Richard Cockerill stated last week, our player recruitment for next season is now 95% complete – and you can look out for some more announcements coming from the club in that regard in the coming days.
Today, we also announced the players who will leave the club at the end of this season. There are some fantastic servants of both the club and Scottish Rugby within that list, and the commitment and professionalism of those players has been second to none, in what is always a difficult period, no matter the circumstances.
The fact that current circumstances mean that fans may not be able to give a proper send-off to that group is difficult, but we will do what we can as a club in the coming weeks to see what might be possible.
The announcement recently made by Scottish Rugby in relation to accessing the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme also impacts on us, as does the recent announcement regarding temporary salary deductions for those players, coaches and other staff members earning more than £50,000 per year. More information on that can be found here.
These steps were difficult ones for Scottish Rugby to take, and I know that a great deal of thought was put into the decision before it was made. However, ultimately, they are designed to try and mitigate our exposure to the constantly changing financial landscape of professional rugby - and importantly to help pull the club through this period and to protect jobs in the longer term.
I have to say that the reaction of those who have been asked to take these steps has been telling - there really has been a view taken that we are all in this together and we will do what it takes to support the club and Scottish Rugby.
Equally, the support of our sponsors and partners in the past few weeks has been exceptional – and further proof that often it takes adversity to show how much people care. I thank them all for that ongoing support.
Engagement – We have been working very hard to engage with our fans, sponsors and community - and to keep producing new and creative content and initiatives across our channels. At the outset of this crisis, we set ourselves the challenge of being both a constant presence and a beacon of hope for our fans in these difficult times. I am hugely proud of the work that continues to go in this - and the scale and variety of what has been produced.
Whether that’s been through producing our official Podcast, “Inside The Castle”, in a virtual way; taking you down memory lane with re-runs of our classic matches and sharing experiences of those games; selecting our All-Star XV; sharing stats and key moments from the season; getting know people behind the scenes at the club; holding virtual quizzes, webinars or events; or recognising local community heroes.
I am particularly proud of the way we have connected across the club and reached out to deliver over 100 unique and personal player video messages – hopefully lifting people’s spirits in these difficult times.
The role that Edinburgh Rugby plays in both our community and in the day-to-day lives of our fans has been firmly re-enforced to me over the past few weeks, so we will continue to do everything we can to maintain this.
Competitions – As you know, the Guinness PRO14 is in a period of indefinite suspension, having indicated that they will look to re-start as soon as possible once certain key welfare, health and logistical criteria have been met. More information can be found here.
EPCR competitions are also in a similar period of suspension. We remain in regular contact with both competitions, who continue to assess various scenarios and potential plans for re-starting the season - if it is feasible and safe to do so.
We will keep you updated as and when more information becomes available, but clearly the health and well-being of our players, people, fans, stakeholders and community is the most important thing right now.
Ticketing - The ongoing uncertainty around the conclusion of this season obviously has an impact on 2019/20 Season Tickets and Match Tickets. These remain valid for any re-arranged games, but if a decision is ultimately made to end this season then we will be providing various options for purchasers – for example credits and discounts for next year to name just one.
Many of you have already been in touch and indicated that if the season does end, then you would want your money to be used to support the club. As such, we are also looking at ways for you to do this (only if that is your choice), and ways in which we could then thank you for that exceptional support.
More details on all of this will be made available just as soon as a clearer position emerges on the rest of this season.
Equally, we had originally planned to have been on sale with 2020/21 Season Tickets at the end of April. However, given the ongoing uncertainty and the financial challenges that many of you may now be facing, we have decided to hold off on this for now.
We will now look to put 2020/21 Season Tickets on sale later in the Spring or early Summer. This will include a range of packages for the new stadium, with some price increases for the best seats in the house.
However, this range of packages will also include a significant number of seats being made available at this year’s match-day prices – to thank-you for your patience and support, to reflect the difficult financial circumstances that some may find themselves in, and also so that people can choose to pay what they can afford from a range of options.
New Stadium – We recently provided you with an update on our new stadium. In line with government guidelines, the build is temporarily suspended, but the project itself remains very real and we will look to re-start just as soon as it is safe and feasible to do so.
Having walked the site myself just before lock-down, I can assure you that with construction of the stands themselves well underway - the look, feel and sound of a match-night next season is going to be something very special indeed.
Internally and externally, we continue to work very hard on this project - and I must thank our project team, Scottish Rugby, WH Malcolm and Arena Seating for their ongoing support.
I do hope that the above gives you an insight into some of the key recent activity at the club. Things are changing almost daily, as I am sure will also be the case in many of your own personal circumstances. However, we will continue to keep you as updated as possible as matters emerge.
Thank you once again for your support – Edinburgh Rugby needs you now more than ever and we are proud to represent this city and its community. Please stay safe, and I very much look forward to welcoming you all back when it is safe to do so.
All the very best.
Douglas Struth – Managing Director