Supporters Q&A – Part 1
It was a busy night in the Phoenix as supporters gathered in their numbers for the Q&A with CEO Neil Hampshire and Head Coach Dean Muir.
Before the session got underway Chairman Kenny Sykes acknowledged the work retiring Press Officer Phil Hodgson has done for the Club, and the game, over many years and presented him with the greatest shirt in rugby league. Phil commented “It’s been an honour. I’m passing the baton to Ian (Pickles) who is more than capable but will be here to provide any assistance required”.
CEO Neil Hampshire then went on to update supporters on a number of topics. In summary:
IMG Grading “There was no real surprise with our score. We landed at a high Grade C where we expected. We have already been in talks with the Council regarding increasing the capacity of the stadium and primacy of tenure so are confident we will move to a Grade B in 2024. However, just to be clear, being a Grade C does not prevent promotion from League 1”.
League Structure – “Although disappointed Championship clubs rejected the proposal to merge there have been a number of improvements for 2024. We were able to secure a number of loop fixtures providing 4 extra games a season. The revamped 1895 competition will see us play 2 Championship teams at home and the travel allowance to Cornwall has been increased. League 1 clubs will also be involved in discussions for the competition format in 2025. There was further good news in that Newcastle will now be at the start line for 2024”.
Health of the Club – “We may have fallen short in the Play-Offs but finishing second in the league was our best performance since 2014. We are looking to build on that this year. Recruitment comes at a cost and as forecast we are looking at a financial operating loss for 2023. An ever increasing cost base means this is likely to continue into 2024, however, we have budgeted for this and have reserves to see us through. However, continuing to run at a loss in any business is not sustainable. As a supporter owned club we all have a part to play. We have held our prices for a number of years but need to increase this year”.
Neil then outlined the prices for 2024:
- Adult £130
- Concession £80
- Adult £16
- Concession £12
- U16s Free
- Pryce £20
- King £360
- Watson £600
- Watson Hospitality £780
(*Full details will be available on the website on 1 December)
Despite the challenges ahead the mood was upbeat and there is confidence that Hunslet are well placed to overcome them with everyone pulling in the same direction.
Supporters Q&A – Part 2
Following Neil Hampshire’s update it was the turn of Head Coach Dean Muir and players Jimmy Watson, Toby Everett and Billy Gaylor to be in the spotlight.
Dean gave an insight into his background in rugby league and what attracted him to coaching and Hunslet. “As a player I was never going to be fast enough to make it but I had the “smarts” and that is the aspect of the game I love so coaching was the natural progression. I jumped at the opportunity to join Hunslet and am looking to build something. Ryan and “Burts” have done an exceptional job on recruitment and I have been able to add to that since my arrival. We are 5 sessions into pre-season and I’m really pleased with how it’s going. We’ve got a group of really good people which is key to any success”.
Dean went on “The interview was the hardest I’ve ever had, a real grilling. That demonstrated to me what the Club means to people. The Board, staff and volunteers are always on it, grafting away all the time. The players are doing the same, I’m really enjoying it”.
Billy and Toby, who have both worked with Dean before, gave their first impressions of the Club. Toby said “It’s been great. It feels like we have been here forever and everyone has been welcoming”. Billy went on “Competition for places is already there, but in a good way. It is intense while any exercise is on but as soon as it’s finished we are all high fiving and supporting each other”.
Club stalwart Jimmy Watson echoed this “They are a great bunch of lads. It’s a good mix of youth and experience. The young uns are running round all over the place but it’s good as it brings a real energy to the place”.
Dean was asked what success would look like for him in 2024 “Everyone is talking about Oldham, who have put a great squad together. That’s okay, we are a bit under the radar but I’m confident we will be in the mix for promotion come the end of the season”.
If you would like to sponsor a player in 2024 please contact email@example.com