Supporter update with Managing Director Douglas Struth
I hope that this message finds you and your families as safe and well as possible – the past few months have undoubtedly been hugely challenging for all of us. Once again, on behalf of everyone at Edinburgh Rugby, I would like to sincerely thank you all for your ongoing support, loyalty and patience.
Much has moved on since my last update to you and I wanted to provide you all with another update on recent club activity following several positive developments last week.
Resumption of rugby
At the end of last week, Guinness PRO14 announced its target to resume the 2019-20 league season. We very much welcome this news and fully support the league’s ongoing efforts to achieve this.
From a club perspective, this means that we can now look forward to two mouth-watering 1872 Cup derby games against Glasgow Warriors on the weekends of 22 and 29 August at BT Murrayfield - and beyond that to a potential PRO14 Semi-Final and Final on the weekends of 5 and 12 September. Sitting as we do at the top of our Conference, we are in a great position to shoot for the PRO14 Semi-Finals off the back of those derby games, which is a huge boost for everybody involved with the club.
Current circumstances and restrictions mean that it is anticipated that both derby games will require to be played behind closed doors. The exact dates and kick-off times for the Glasgow Warriors games will follow, but I am sure you will agree that this gives us all something positive and tangible to aim for over the summer. With regards to the 1872 Cup, and in what format it will be decided, I can confirm that these discussions are ongoing with both Glasgow Warriors and Scottish Rugby and we’ll look to update you in due course.
Equally, we would hope to be in a position shortly to share more information with you regarding the re-scheduling of our EPCR Challenge Cup Quarter-Final in Bordeaux, as we are still going strong in that competition too.
Some more good news from the end of last week - it was confirmed that we have now qualified for next season’s Heineken Champions Cup. This is just reward for all the effort that the team has put in already over this season – whilst ensuring that the cream of European rugby will be returning to the capital next season.
Before we can play again, our players will need an appropriate period of phased return to training over the summer. This will be undertaken carefully in line with government requirements, but I am delighted that we have now been able to move to the first phase of that this week – with our players coming in to a “bubble” environment at BT Murrayfield for voluntary individual fitness activity.
There are so many people across both the club and Scottish Rugby who are working tirelessly to get rugby resumed as safely as possible – and I would like to express my sincere thanks to all those involved.
I am also delighted that construction work on our new stadium project was able to re-start last week - following confirmation from the Scottish government that the construction sector can re-start, on a phased basis.
Substantial progress had already been made when the site was suspended, and it’s great that our contractors can now pick that back up again and continue work on our new 7,800 capacity home – so we can look forward once again to being #HomeAtLast!
Stay tuned to our website and club channels for more updates on this in the coming weeks.
Current circumstances and restrictions may well mean that our remaining games in the 2019-20 season will either need to be played behind closed doors, or in front of a very limited crowd. On that basis, we took the decision to offer all our 2019-20 Season Ticket holders, and relevant 2019-20 match ticket holders, the following options:
A ticket credit – to allow fans the option to receive a pro-rata credit on a 2020-21 season ticket product - based on the value of the games now being missed; or
A contribution to the club – to allow fans the option to contribute the value of any such pro-rata credit to the club – helping support our operating costs over the coming months and maintaining our role in the community; or
A ticket refund – to allow fans to opt to receive a pro-rata refund - based on the value of the games now being missed.
We communicated these three options to our fans last week, and since then I have been truly humbled by the responses received. So far, the majority of our Season Ticket holders who have responded have opted to contribute to the club – and with no match-day or ticket income coming into the club since we played Cardiff Blues back in February, these contributions will be vital over the coming months.
This demonstrates once again the mark of our fans in supporting us in this way, at a time where many people’s own personal financial circumstances may be stretched. Everybody here at Edinburgh Rugby is deeply grateful for this exceptional support.
At this stage, I had hoped to be able to provide you with a more detailed update on our 2020-21 ticketing plans. However, as we navigate our way through COVID-19, there are still too many evolving variables for us to be able to definitively confirm those arrangements right now.
For example, we do not yet know if we will need to start the 2020-21 season behind closed doors, and if so, for how long. Equally, if crowds are permitted, then physical distancing may be required for a period - potentially for some months to come.
Physical distancing may mean that we take a conscious decision to use the main bowl at BT Murrayfield for a period next season, even once our new stadium is finished, so that as many fans as possible are able to access our games in person. However, we are still looking at what seating models and configurations might have to look like in a physically distanced main bowl – subject to then current government restrictions.
All of this impacts upon what our 2020-21 Season Ticket packages will need to look like – but we are working on some creative, realistic and affordable options for you that are still flexible enough to mitigate the various evolving Covid-19 related elements. We would hope to be able to provide you with more information on this during July - keep an eye on our website and social media channels for more details and announcements.
In the meantime, the strong feedback I have had from you is that you want to continue to help support the club. We will therefore be launching some exclusive Membership options - The Castle Club and The Burgh Junior Supporter’s Club - each with a range of benefits designed to supplement any future Season Ticket that you might buy. Once again, more details will follow very shortly.
In my previous update to you, I noted that we have been working very hard to engage with our fans, sponsors and community through new and creative content across our channels. I remain hugely proud of the work that continues to go into this – with new content being launched every week.
Recently, this has included “Principal & Prosper All Access” (providing insights, updates and analysis from across the club); the “Glen Moray Centurion’s Select” (catching up with legends who’ve played over 100 times for us); and the “It’s Good to Give - Local Hero” (working with our official charity partner to recognise those in our community who are going above and beyond at this time). We have also now taken over 150,000 fans down a virtual memory-lane, through our “Capital Classic” re-runs of some great Edinburgh Rugby matches.
I do hope that all of this has been helping lift your spirits in these difficult times. Our final Capital Classic will run this weekend – our European Quarter-Final against Toulouse from 2012 – which will be a fitting way to finish off that series before we turn our attention to re-starting the 2019-20 season and some live rugby.
Overall, we still have significant challenges ahead of us as a club, but with the targeted resumption of the 2019-20 season, added to the re-start of our new stadium construction and with our players returning to return to voluntary individual fitness activity, it really does feel that we are moving in the right direction. I do hope that things are similar in your own personal circumstances.
Thank you once again for all your support and patience over the past few months – we need that support now more than ever. As always, please stay safe and I very much look forward to welcoming you all back when it is safe to do so.
Douglas Struth – Managing Director