A big thank you to fans, sponsors and friends who have supported our Albion 2020 Heroes funding initiative. Donations pledged to date have topped £22,000 and we still have a few days to go to hit our target. Your support is hugely encouraging to all in our Brickfield HQ where work continues at a pace. Thank you one and all.
Coronavirus confusion continues to reign throughout the land, despite Boris enthusiastically encouraging us to remain ‘alert,’ work from home if we can, but return to our place of employment if we need to. Scotland, Wales and Ireland remain pretty well locked down to add a little more confusion to the issue. In any event, the first signs of light are beginning to emerge in lockdowns dark tunnel.
Competitive rugby remains some way off in the future, but with soccer chiefs discussing the possibility of playing games behind closed doors, the notion of a sequential return to a sporting calendar is in the air, I suspect it will be a ‘New Normal’ but rugby will be played at Brickfields again in due course.
Albion management continues to take a considered, balanced and pragmatic position. We are working hard in preparation for rugby to return sometime in the future. Logically the time frame for relaxing sanctions and social distancing will be predicated by the number of new cases of the virus recorded in the next few weeks and months. I suspect there will be no fast return to rugby as we knew it, but whatever the developments and time frame, Albion will be prepared, in shape and ready to compete.
There have been several false dawns voiced by previous Albion luminaries in recent years. Promises of fame, fortune and a rapid climb to the Premiership proved to be wishful thinking ‘pie in the sky’ notions with no substance. I take this opportunity to repeat my message of recent weeks. Albion management is using this current time to shape and advance plans and strategies as a roadmap ensuring a bright, successful and sustainable future for our club.
There are many fine elements in Albion’s history, positive traditions and achievements. Building on our firm foundations, we are developing and introducing a ‘New Albi 2020 Culture’ firmly rooted in an honest endeavour, sustained hard work and a firm focus on the business of business demanded for success from an elite level rugby club.
Whilst keeping our feet firmly on the ground, Albion management is building a visionary blueprint to progressively grow Plymouth Albion as an elite level rugby club, whilst developing our grounds and facilities as a centre for Plymouths sporting excellence. We are also continuing to embrace youth, community and junior functions in line with the best traditions of English Club Rugby. We continue to have exploratory discussions with our political leaders, together with Raiders Basketball and Argyle Soccer. Together we can achieve great things.
I am pleased to report that agreement has been reached regard to the appointment of the club’s senior coach. Contracts are in train and once signatures are in place, I will make a formal announcement.
Quality coaching, developing player skills and fitness, together with comprehensive sports injuries and rehab department, are high on the agenda in the ‘Albi 2020 Blueprint for Success’ we have been working on. There is also ample scope for our new DOR and coaches to add their handwriting, ideas and strategies to our overall game.
Aspiration, ambition and passion are at the heart of the new ‘Albi Culture’ we will be introducing, growing and developed as a ‘New Normal’ designed to ‘Make Albion Great Again.
In recent weeks I have been working closely with Chris Bentley, our new Commercial Manager. Chris landed in January full of enthusiasm, ideas and experience are drawn from a 13-year professional playing career, followed by 6 seasons as Chiefs Corporate Sales manager. Building a greater synergy, harmony and mutually beneficial working relationships with sponsors old and new, is an important element Chris is keen to emphasise and develop.
Chris holds that successful sponsorship can be so much more than ‘you give us your money and we promote and display your company name, product and service’. There are so many more ways we can work closely with our sponsors to the mutual benefit of all concerned.
In addition to the normal sponsorship opportunities, Chris is approaching captains of the Plymouths business community inviting them to meet and talk about joining us in a new era of club and sponsor partnerships.
A career as a professional or semi-professional rugby player does not last forever. There is life after rugby and many fruitful working years for players when they hang up their boots. Conversely, the attributes, disciplines and commitment required to perform as an elite level rugby player are qualities much sought after in the commercial and business world.
A new ‘Albi 2020 Career Hub’ is just one element Chris will be platforming. The scheme invites sponsors to work closely with the club examining ways to maximise mutually successful outcomes for both club and commercial sponsor. Listing staff vacancies and opportunities for Albion players as an integral part of an ongoing sponsorship deal is just one avenue to be considered.
Despite Coronavirus much continues to develop behind the scenes at Brickfields. These are indeed challenging but exciting times for us all, but enough for now as I will be making a positive and significant announcement in the next week. Watch this space.
Managing Director, Max Venables