With regard to the Varsity Match Company Limited (VMCL), the Twickenham matches have not had a main sponsor for the last 5 years, but the VMCL is hopeful of securing a major sponsor and several category sponsors for 2017.
However, we are pleased to be able to report that a combination of cost savings, staging innovative events such as the Women in Business networking event (pictured) and a much better take up on hospitality boxes than in previous years has meant that the overall profit from the event will be better than in 2015, albeit still only a fraction of the revenue that was generated prior to 2008. This source of funding will grow as we roll out the VMCL strategy at Twickenham, provided our alumni continue to support the events.
On the local sponsorship side, we have a committee led by Jeremy Macklin and Andrew McGahey, which has been very successful in the last 12 months. Largely as a result of expending a huge amount of “shoe leather and persistence” around Cambridge, every evening home match this year has been sponsored, as was our away fixture at Richmond, and the “match day experience” has proved very popular with Cambridge businesses, and most have already signed up again for next season.
We also benefitted from having a club sponsor in 2016 in the shape of The Big Yellow Self Storage Company, 3 significant sponsors for the Steele Bodger match, and almost 1,000 people enjoying lunch at the ground! There is of course more work to do, but revenue generation at Grange Road will be significantly greater this current financial year and we will seek to grow it again in 2017-18.
However, the above measures without a title sponsor can only be expected to reduce the annual financial deficit that we have incurred in the last three years, and it will take time to achieve even this level. Therefore, we plan to use a proportion of Alumni funds generated by Red Lion 150 to help fund player support, such as coaches, fitness and conditioning and physio, as we build up the endowment fund. This will be the role of the Development Campaign, now called Red Lion 150. The Campaign is run by the development committee which is also headed by Jeremy, working closely with Rob Heginbotham who is at the sharp end of this ambitious project. We crucially now need to turn to Alumni and supporters to engage with Red Lion 150 as we move into 2017.
Red Lion 150 is about the future of Rugby at Cambridge, principally looking to the longer term. Once we have stabilised the ship, RL 150 is designed to deliver a sustainable long-term financial future for Cambridge University Rugby and provide the funds to make a number of improvements to playing standards and operations over and above the current “status quo”.