Chief Executive Mike Rush has addressed the Saints fans...
I hope you and your families are all safe and well during this difficult time. It’s not been easy for anyone during this COVID-19 pandemic and like me, I am sure you are all missing your Saints in action.
I firstly want to thank YOU for your patience and understanding. The positivity you have shown through all this has been great to see and you are a credit to our Club. I am sure you will have lots of questions which you will want answers to and hopefully over the coming weeks we should be in a position to answer those.
It’s been a busy few months as our Chairman Eamonn McManus and myself have been working hard behind the scenes, putting in place financial plans which we are confident will see us through this difficult time. The Saints have been one of the hardest hit of all Super League clubs during the period of closure due to the high fixed costs inherent in owning a new stadium along with the loss of our considerable non rugby-related conferencing and hospitality businesses – these are in addition to the loss of our match day income streams.
Just to give you a bit of an insight, 90% of our staff have been furloughed and the few that are left working, have, along with our first team squad and coaching staff, voluntarily taken pay reductions which will of course help us out financially.
All our staff, including Kristian and his players have been brilliant and have really taken this in their stride. They are a credit to our Club and I would like to express my thanks to every single one of them for demonstrating such integrity at this challenging time.
Our board of directors have also played a key part and will continue to do so as the weeks go on. I must thank them for everything they do for us all.
Our Club partners deserve a huge mention. They like us have had it tough over the past few months with obvious strain on their business, but despite that, they have proven what great supporters of the Club they are and stood by us when they could have easily concentrated their efforts and funds on themselves. Thank you to them.
I can’t fail to mention our Community Foundation who have been doing some great work in the local community including: Arranging for a number of the first team players to check in with our elderly season ticket holders which I know put a smile on hundreds of faces. Our Veterans of the Foundation have also been out and about visiting former veterans every Tuesday. They’ve also helped launch a vital new health and well-being app. We have had kiosk stock and IPro hydration drinks delivered to the front-line NHS staff at Whiston Hospital whilst our stadium has been an essential hub for carrying out blood testing and other essential testing means. This community work is exactly what St.Helens R.F.C. is all about.
One of our only regular sources of income during this time has been through online purchases at our Saints Superstore and once again, you the fans, have backed the club in times of need, purchasing merchandise, Father’s Day gifts as well as our new Saints face masks. Our club shop will open-up again for in-store purchases once we have a better understanding of the season return date. Until then, please do continue to purchase your Saints gifts online.
I must also thank those of you who have backed our new online video service, Saints TV, which has hopefully kept you entertained over these past few months with some Saints classics – of which there are plenty!
On the field, the big question is when will we return to play? Well, we can safely say we are at the heart of all the decisions and communications with meetings between the RFL, Super League and club’s taking place on a daily basis. We will all hopefully be able to announce news soon.
Before that happens, our players will hopefully return to our training ground (once all safety measures have been put in place) to train in small groups and prepare as best they can for the restart date. I know they have all been keeping on top of their fitness at home which can only help when returning to formalised sessions.
Understandably, we have had a number of queries regarding match tickets, and we are working on several options ranging from playing behind closed doors, to playing in front of you, our fans. We as a club have led the way having drawn up plans to play in front of reduced crowds whilst in-line with government guidance. These plans have been submitted to the RFL and Super League and we hope that they will be passed on to government as an example of how we can help return the game to you as soon as possible.
Once we have a return to play date and we know how that guidance will look in terms of venues and spectators, we can then inform you on ticket processes. I thank you again for your patience.
It will be a very different experience watching the Saints when we do return to play, with no or a limited number of fans inside grounds – not to mention possible rule changes which may have to be enforced on the back of COVID-19. We are hopeful that if do end up playing behind closed doors – Sky Sports – who have been very accommodating – will broadcast a number of our matches for you to watch and as a game we are looking at possible streaming services too which hopefully will allow more to tune in. Once the details of this has been confirmed we will of course share with you.
We are still at the start of our journey and together we have a long way to go, but we are making small steps to securing our long-term future and it has been incredibly humbling for me and my senior colleagues to witness the overwhelming support of our fans.
I know when we finally return, our players and coaching staff will be doing everything they can to bring that Super League trophy home again for you.
Thank you again for everything you have done and although circumstances may be keeping our Saints family apart, TOGETHER we WILL return stronger than ever.