NEWCASTLE Falcons hope to be financially sustainable within the next three years, executive director Paul Varley deeming it ‘unrealistic’ for owner Semore Kurdi to continually make up the club’s shortfall.
Varley and director of rugby Dean Richards will be among the Falcons’ contingent meeting season ticket holders tomorrow night as the Kingston Park club put some meat on the bones of their longer-term vision.
The Falcons are currently 16 points clear at the top of the Championship following last season’s relegation and well positioned for a return to the Premiership, although making the numbers stack up remains a continued challenge.
Varley (pictured right) said: “We have set an ambition of balancing the books by the 2014-15 season, and I think we will be on the trajectory towards that by the start of 2014.
“It is important we do that, and Semore has been a godsend to this club in terms of his ambition and aspirations for what it is we want to achieve.
“That said, I think it is totally unrealistic to expect someone to be dipping into their own pocket all the time, and that is simply not sustainable.”
Having retained the bulk of their top players following last year’s relegation, Varley admitted: “We have a Premiership squad playing Championship rugby, and we have to grow what we have here in terms of gate receipts and match-day revenues.
“That is not about charging more for tickets, but about getting more people through the door.”
League attendances this term have hovered either side of the 4,000 mark, with last month’s televised visit of London Scottish attracting a season-high 4,893.
Arguably fighting a losing battle in tempting big numbers to watch second-tier rugby, the executive director stated: “The gate numbers are what they are this season, and we are working hard on that.
“Attendances are broadly in line with what they were last season, but revenues are up slightly because we don’t have to give away as many free tickets to Premiership sponsors and the like.
“There is definitely an opportunity to improve the perception of Newcastle Falcons now.
“I think in general there is a lot of warm feeling towards us, we don’t have the problem of rivalries within our sport and most rugby folk in the region generally want to support us. That is incredibly important, and businesses also seem to appreciate the corporate opportunity available to them.
“We want to ensure that all of those people come with us on the journey we are embarking on, and that they are still with us in five to ten years time. The winning team we talk about is not just on the field and within our own staff, it is the whole community of people who have an affiliation to us one way or another.”
Tomorrow’s season ticket holders’ forum ties in with the recently-unveiled vision and values of the Falcons, with all staff and players shown a presentation outlining their short and long-term ambitions.
“One of the central themes is living the values that we talk about, and that includes every single employee or person who represents the Falcons,” said Varley.
“The players have to embrace this and go on the journey with us, and they are the biggest ambassadors because they are the ones on the field that the fans are coming to see.
“They need to understand the vision and articulate it to people when they are out in the community, and in fairness they are very adept at putting that across. They are a very articulate bunch, and are very much part of all this.
“The feedback we have had since we presented this to the squad is that they are very much on board, and I have even had players coming to me asking how they can go out into the community and the business world to help us spread the word.”