With Cornwall For Cornwall

Gans Kernow Rag Kernow

Westholme, Alexandra Road,

Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4LY

Tel: 01736 331961 Email: [email protected]

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Fans Forum Round Up

Posted: December 15, 2023
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With recent news from Kernow Sport Ltd confirming that the ambitions for the Stadium for Cornwall were unable to be realised by the Cornish Pirates, and there a need for Truro City FC to have a ground to return to in time for next season, it was also announced that the latter had been bought by Ontario Inc, a Canadian sports consortium.

Kernow Sport Ltd owner Dicky Evans said he was sad to lose Truro City FC, as he was sad to see the Cornish Pirates have to give up their ambition for a permanent home in Truro. He also added:

With TCFC in good hands, I am now totally focussed on passing on the Pirates baton to new rugby owners. Cornish Pirates will remain in Penzance, their home and heartland. We may have lost the Stadium, but we have gained control of our own destiny.”

Following the above news from Kernow Sport Ltd, after firstly enjoying a hog roast courtesy of Roseworthy Farms the Cornish Pirates held a ‘Fans Forum’ in the Yeomans marquee at the MennayeField on Thursday evening, where furtherinformation was provided, and a Q&A session with the Coaches and the Board took place.

Welcoming everyone who attended, the Chairman of the Cornish Pirates, Paul Durkin said a purpose of the meeting was to endeavour to explain and put things into context because it was vital that the club has the backing of sponsors, volunteers and supporters, etcetera, who are its lifeblood, and it is only right that such people are in the know.

Paul reiterated that the club has been extremely fortunate to have the incredible input and support from Dicky Evans over many years but reminded everyone that it was nearly two years ago that Dickyannounced his three- year ‘Sunset Plan’ to complete his investment in the Cornish Pirates. The plan offered a £2.5m funding programme and security for up to three years for the Pirates, allowing a full-time professional side to continue to challenge for the Premiership while a graceful transition to new investors is executed.

The club had to consider where could additional investment be found for rugby, and at that time for an expected stadium facility. Paul also said it was and still is inevitably important to always look ahead andlook to avoid becoming another Jersey Reds.

Further background to the various problems associated with the hoped for venture in general were also touched upon, whilst mention of the Rugby Union structure going forward was also an unknown. Apparently, Championship clubs have not been involved in any meaningful negotiations to date as to what a whole new structure due to come into place. The clubs have been excluded.

A potential Franchise idea was not surprisingly unanimously rejected by the Championship clubs because it was not going to be a meritocracy and would become almost like ringfencing in a two-tier league. The only people wanting that are Premiership Rugby because it gives them control of the finances and the running of the game. Paul highlighted how can potential investors be asked to invest if they do not know fully what they are investing in. As for funding from PRL and from the RFU, the former say there is no funding from them and the RFU say they are brokewhen they have taken half a million from each club since 2020.

With reference to the stadium, it was back in 2018 when money was expected from the government to support the project, but with huge frustration and excuses made it was not forthcoming. Then, there was the pressure of having to get Truro City a new ground because they had been playing outside of the county for the past two years and had to return to Truro as soon as possible. These and other points were raised, including that Cornwall Council expected that besides rugby union and football, rugby league be played at the stadium as well which, with obvious reasons given, was just not practical.

Inspirational coaches Gavin Cattle and Alan Paver both gave updates from their perspective, including for this season with what is clearly a young and developing squad who are to be commended for their performances to date, with every hope that as per last year the second half of the campaign will be up another notch. They also look forward to the final fixture in 2023 at the Mennaye Field next Saturday against Hartpury, when a big Christmas crowd is expected to enjoy the game and the atmosphere.

CEO Rebecca Thomas commented that it had been less than ideal for the past 13 years or so with levels of uncertainty as to when or whether the team wouldor would not be moving to Truro.  She highlighted that, along with uncertainty and difficulty planning for the Cornish Pirates, it had also made it difficult for Penzance & Newlyn RFC to plan for the future, who are now delighted that the Cornish Pirates are staying in Penzance with an aim to continue playing at a high level.  Rebecca added ‘keeping top level rugby in West Cornwall and fans from far and wide coming to this area can only be seen as a good thing, although there is naturally disappointment that the Stadium for Cornwall dream could not be realised.’  Rebecca also touched on the how the Club operates with skeletal back room staff, but always with rugby, partners and supporters at the forefront of everything we do, ‘everyone here is so passionate about the club and it is a huge part of our lives, we are very lucky to have such great team across the admin and rugby sides.’

Some general mentions discussed and given consideration in a positive manner concerned displaying of information on the website, and just reasons why chosen home games are played on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. The obvious importance of working closely and constructively with the Penzance & Newlyn club and the Pirates Amateurs was also highlighted.

Overall, the evening, attended by 60 plus people, was considered very useful and positive, with a view thatfurther such meetings could quite easily take placewhen called for in the future.

Finally, and importantly, as Paul Durkin had also commented:

“It’s not the end of anything but the beginning of something new!