Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Changes at the Club - How this affects you

I hope you have been enjoying the summer and are looking forward to a great season of rugby.
I wanted to write to you personally, to bring you up to speed with the club’s current situation, as well as to highlight some changes to membership and subs that I believe are necessary and may impact you.


Improving Rugby at Millwall

Millwall Rugby Club is a strong, successful and vibrant club. And it may surprise you to learn that our annual turnover is in the region of £90,000, putting it on a par with some small businesses. Building the club to that size of turnover has inevitably meant that we encounter some challenges.

Over the past few years, the club’s committee has worked tirelessly to improve what we offer to members, to ensure that we stay competitive and grow as a club both on and off the pitch. As we enter our 20th Anniversary year, we are offering members more than ever before. 
  • We now provide regular, quality coaching to the men’s teams via a paid-for-coach, rather than relying exclusively on volunteer coaches.
  • We now provide free transport to most away matches.
  • We’ve moved training from an often poor quality paddock at Mudchute Farm onto Millwall Park, alongside our clubhouse and we now have a set of reliable and fully portable training floodlights for the winter months.
  • We are now more consistent in providing home and visiting teams with good quality home-cooked food after matches.
  • We’re now running touch rugby more professionally all-year-round.
  • We’re now providing better first-aid cover and physio support through recruiting and training volunteers. 
  • Opened in 2010, we have a warm clubhouse, that is now open for longer hours and is consistently available for members and guests after training sessions and matches.

Shortfall in revenue

Some of the improvements that the club has enjoyed have inevitably meant incurring additional costs. The level of additional spending has now reached £16,000 a year more than the club needed to spend in its earlier years.  In terms everyone can understand, this now means that it costs more than double what it used to cost to give everyone a game of rugby.

Recent committees have made good progress in finding alternative funding sources in their efforts to maintain members’ cost increases to a minimum, with membership fees and subs increasing only slightly in recent years. I want to emphasise the efforts that have been made to keep charges low and affordable for everyone.

However, it is important to recognise the lack of certainty that the club is faced with as we look forward at the costs the club will face this season when compared with expected revenue. If nothing changes, we could expect a revenue shortfall of at least £12,000. Clearly, this situation has to be addressed if we are to ensure a financially viable rugby club for the coming years.

With this in mind, I called together the current management committee to look at how we can plug this funding gap and secure the long-term future of the club.

Whilst I understand that there are some potentially interesting areas where costs can be saved your committee agrees that a certain level of spending is necessary if the club is to develop and achieve its ambitions. We have an exciting season ahead of us in the Essex 1 league and maintaining the coaching and travel commitments in support of our ambitions has to be a priority.


Here’s what we decided

This issue affects the viability of the whole club, and we believe it’s the right thing for everyone to be part of the solution.  We are a “rugby club with a strong social element”, not a social club that plays some rugby. And we want everyone to come together as part of one Millwall rugby community.

Here are the decisions:
  • We’re abolishing the two-tier membership structure and introducing a single-adult membership level of £50 per year for everyone. This will affect all adult members, including men, Venus, social members and youth parent members (except students/unwaged membership who will still pay £25). This change means that all members will simply be classed as ‘member’ (as opposed to playing or social), and anyone will be eligible to play for the club if they wish.
  • We’re increasing weekly playing subs for adult men to £15 per match. (Venus subs will remain at £7.50 because the women do not benefit from the paid-for coaching). 
  • Weekly playing subs for student and unwaged members (men and women) remain discounted, however they will rise to £5 per match while you remain a student/unwaged. Evidence of your status may be required periodically.
  • The Standing Order men’s membership scheme has changed and remains the best value way to be a member if you play regularly - and more details are in the section below.
  • We’re taking a more rigorous approach to collecting membership fees and weekly subs.  If your membership is not up-to-date by Wednesday evening before the game, your team manager will not select you to play. Any arranged club transport will not leave until every player travelling has paid their subs - even if that means letting the club down by travelling with fewer players or forfeiting fixtures.
  • Youth subs and membership charges will be re-introduced this season. Details to follow. 
  • Life membership, which includes all subs, will stay at a one-off payment of £1000 (or £100 per month if paid in 12 instalments over a year).
  • Some of the bar prices will increase slightly, however we are keeping them as low as possible – for instance a pint of Becks remains at the low price of just £2.90.
All of the above changes are effective from today.

The men’s Standing Order scheme

Our standing order scheme is very good value for money because it includes membership and subs in one low monthly payment.  With the increased number of fixtures this season, you could easily save £80 against the cost of paying membership + subs.

A few years back the existing 12-month payment scheme was changed to an 8-month scheme, to try and counter the actions of some members who were not honouring the spirit of the scheme by cancelling their payments during the summer months.  
  • To help budgeting over a longer period we have decided to bring back the 12-month scheme to allow members to spread payment evenly over the whole year. The 8-month scheme will cease.
  • The new price for all members is £25 per month paid over 12 months, recognising that there are many more fixtures this season.  In recognition of longer term support for the club, any member who is already paying a 12 month Standing Order may continue to pay at their current rate. The club is grateful to the number of overseas members who continue to support the club in this way!
  • Everyone who takes up the scheme is expected to honour the 12 month agreement. We will be more rigorous in ensuring that all payments are collected and if you should fall behind on your payments, you will not be selected to play until you’ve made up what you owe.
Historically, the club has allowed members on the 12-month standing order scheme to continue paying at the same rate for as long as they maintain the same un-broken standing order.  Whilst we can’t guarantee the actions of future committees, it is the committee’s intent that this approach will continue for the foreseeable future. You may therefore find that there are additional benefits in joining the scheme and locking-in your rate now.


It is the club’s policy to reward regular volunteers with 50% discount on membership and subs (except life membership) for as long as they remain a volunteer. Many of our volunteers choose not to take the discount, however we believe that this is a simple way to incentivise and recognise people who give a little extra of their time each week.

Hardship cases

We will still be understanding in cases of genuine hardship, and existing club policies around this remain unchanged: we want Millwall Membership to remain accessible to all. If you are in genuine hardship and cannot afford your membership fees you should write to the treasurer explaining your circumstances.

“Let’s Go to Work”

I believe your management committee has done its part and taken the difficult decisions needed to put the club on a strong financial path for this season.  We will continue working to minimise costs and maximise alternative sources of funding, such as finding sponsorship and applying for grants.

We need you to support the changes, keep training, keep socialising and to encourage others to play their part in the success of the club. We’d like you to suggest new ways of funding, new ideas that we might be able to action to bring in new revenue and to introduce us to your employers who might want to sponsor the club.

This season promises to be an exciting one for Millwall Rugby. We are in Essex 1 and the pre-season training has been progressing well. The players look fitter than ever and the tackling looks strong. Whilst I daresay we will encounter challenging moments through the season, I am looking forward immensely to watching the Men’s teams cement their places in the League and Merit tables, and for Venus to crack into the ladies league. Touch rugby has also received a new impetus and as we align ourselves more closely with the O2 Touch programme under the watchful eye of Mr Flex, we can look forward to seeing further new faces on the park and to welcoming more new members into the club.

Shaun Cook, who with the other playing members on the committee was part of these decisions, will be holding a meeting for players on Wednesday this week after training, where he will echo these key changes.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me personally at chairman@millwallrugby.com.

With best wishes for a cracking season ahead

Robin Poynder
Chairman, Millwall Rugby Club

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