On 14th March I went on holiday to Portugal as we did not have a game that weekend, intending to return on 21/3 so that I could attend our scheduled vitally important game away at Whitehaven the following day.
To say the last week has been dramatic is a woefully inadequate understatement, as in those 7 days away the world has changed in a way never before seen. There has been and will be tragic loss of life, so that should be everyone’s primary concern, but we do have to try to plan for times when we beat this and as a Club we certainly have to do this and we have now had discussions about how we can move forward and survive.
Let us start by being positive. We have not supported this Club all our lives and the present Board and officials have not worked tirelessly now over 22 years for us now to lose everything. So one way or another we can say that Batley Bulldogs will survive as a semi professional Club that the Town and all connected with it can be proud of. Let’s get that perfectly clear to everybody who wants to know.
Next continuing on a positive note we are in a position to believe we have got as good a chance as ANY Club because firstly we own our Stadium free of mortgage so we have a base, at arguably the oldest ground in world Rugby League, and secondly as we speak, because of the way we run the Club, we are not burdened with significant debts so we go into this crisis on a sound financial footing. Not all Clubs can say that but we can and do.
Having said that by no stretch of the imagination will it be easy and we know there are testing times ahead as we face a period with no income and equally we do not have the luxury of savings we can fall back on to ride the storm. We will rely on the government measures already announced and any others on the way. We will also rely on support from Sky and the RFL. I should add that I believe Ralph Rimmer and the RFL are working tirelessly to get everybody through this as best they can. So we need help but we also have to help ourselves to get through this period and come out the other side as best we can.
What are our plans?
In the same way that the government have to change their plans daily we initially are looking at the next 12 weeks as they are. We are constantly reviewing our finances and how we can meet our responsibilities as they arise, and we are working on the stadium and infrastructure of the Club whilst we cannot do other work surrounding running a rugby club and playing games.
By the time we get back playing our facilities will never have looked so good as we try to use the time wisely to improve. We are also aware of the need to try to keep social media as active as possible to keep interest in the sport and our Club. So we are all actively trying our best to get in a good position to survive.
We do have some debts to address and we do need to try to get in whatever monies we can to help. We do also realise that people may very well have their own financial concerns so may not have an abundance of spare monies to help their Club in any event. So we now wish to kick off some small initiatives which will especially help the more people we can engage with the Club.
So how can we help in the short term?
1. We have seen the success of the Featherstone v York virtual game and have spoken to our friends there who maintain this was a great help to their Clubs, backed by their supporters trying to help ensure the future of their Club and having a bit of much needed fun on the way.
We are presently working towards a Bulldogs Legends v Supporters game again details to be announced hopefully sometime later this week Again watch this space on how you can support this initiative which we hope will bring in finance and create social media interest for supporters.
2. Whilst ever we do not have games we hope to arrange a weekly draw with a chance to win money. Each week we will try to vary it to create a bit more interest but initially to get us up and running we aim to just have a simple draw like a raffle.
So here goes-
In week 1 we are asking supporters to buy tickets at £2 each (thats £1.80 + 20p transaction fee) via our ticketing website. Once purchased it generates a ticket with a number on it . That number will then go in a draw for a prize in the first week of £100. The draw will take place at 3.45pm on next Sunday 29th March.
That would be half time at our game if we were playing which is appropriate in place of our normal half time draw. As weeks go by if it is popular we hope the prize will increase. Again we need your support to make this work. So click here to buy your tickets and good luck.
That’s it for now but hopefully this is just the start of our survival plan.
THIS IS YOUR CLUB- BATLEY BULLDOGS
A message from the Chaplain to the players, coaches, staff, fans and all the family of Batley Bulldogs:
I can’t deny that this is a difficult time and much as we miss our sport, we are learning that there are things even more important. The Bible emphasises the importance of family and the Lord Jesus commands us to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’.
Ever since I first became involved, family and caring for one another were the qualities that were so clear and so much a part of our club. I want to urge us to use those wonderful qualities to support the Bulldogs family at this time.
Please let’s not leave anyone out but keep watch for each other. Use social media to keep the fun and banter going (I’m sure James Brown will find a way to tease me about alleged activities in Batley!), message or phone those you can’t visit or meet up with and let’s be ready to share our needs and help those who can’t get out. Mental health is as important as physical health at this time, so let’s make sure we talk to each other and look out for anyone struggling.
No club has better community or family than Batley, if there is one word that sums us up then surely it is “Together”. We win together, we lose together, we celebrate together, we grieve together, and we are all in it together. So, I’m confident that when all this is over, we will come back together and be that strong caring family that we have always been. Until then be assured of my love and prayers; I’m available for anyone who wants to talk to me.
God Bless you , Derek