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26 April 2020 / Club News

Coronavirus Update

What strange times these are. Normally at this time in April I would be reporting on an exciting build up towards the end of the season. Today my most important message is that I hope you and all of your families are well and are coping with the restrictions imposed as a result of the lockdown and self-isolation. I am aware of the fact that in relative terms we live in an environment where the Coronavirus Pandemic has, to date, had less impact than elsewhere, however, we are not immune from the effect of this virus and so I would urge you all to ensure that youtake care and stay safe so that when we are able to emerge from this traumatic period we can all re-unite to enjoy one another’s company in the Clubhouse or at Parc de Pugh.

 

While we are all coping as best as we can with our personal problems we also have to consider the impact that the suspension to normal life is having on the club as a whole. The Board is doing all it can to limit the damage that a long period of inactivity can potentially cause. This is not without considerable challenge. For the present the most pressing issue is financial viability. We still have commitments that we have to honour while our income stream has dried up. In order to try to limit the damage, the Board is actively been pursuing a range of Grants. Three Welsh Government Grants are potentially available and we have made application for support in all three areas, although under the regulations we will ultimately only be able to access aid from one W.G. source.

 

Early responses to our applications have been disappointing to date as you can see from the details set out below.

  • Sport Wales/ WG Grant – This Grant could potentially provide up to £5,000 to support Sports Clubs in Wales who are suffering a loss of income as a result of flood damage or the Coronavirus Lockdown. Disappointingly our application for aid from this source was unsuccessful.
  • Covid-19 Grants for Businesses in Wales linked to Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) – There are two separate Grants under this heading. One for businesses with a rateable value of over £12,000 and one for those where the rateable value is below £12,000. Both Grants are granted through individual Local Authorities, in our case Powys CC.
  • We cannot access the Grant (£25,000) for businesses with a rateable value of over £12,000 because whilst our combined rateable value for Clubhouse and pitch is in excess of £12,000 we are charged rates separately for the Ground/Pavilion and the Club house.
  • We are having to fight a battle to try to access the grant for businesses where their rateable value is below £12,000. It would have seemed that under this scheme we could be entitled £10,000 for each of our separate premises. However, while this Grant is mandatory for businesses in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief it is discretionary for Not for Profit or Charitable businesses (We, together with other Sports Clubs and Charities fall under this category as we benefit from 80% rate relief as a result of our Community Amateur Sports Club status). Some Local Authorities are prepared to use their discretionary powers and Clubs in places like Swansea, Caerphilly and other reas of South Wales will or have already received grant aid. Powys and some other Councils are not prepared to use their discretionary powers as there is no guarantee that they will be refunded by the Welsh Government if they make these awards. We are fighting our corner through the WRU, a dialogue with Kirsty Williams AM and with considerable support from Councillor Iain McIntosh, but at present we are making little headway.
  • Economic Resilience Fund – This is the third possible source of financial assistance. Applications opened on 17th April and we immediately applied for aid through under this scheme. We have heard nothing to date.

 

I apologise for all the detail above but I felt it was important that everyone is aware of what we are attempting to do in order to protect the Club and the problems we are encountering. So after all of that I will move on to a slightly lighter and more positive note.

 

PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE

I called down to Parc de Pugh on Friday as a change of route on my bike. I was amazed to see our new team enthusiastically taking part in training on the field and not being too concerned about social distancing. They looked pretty relaxed and happy to be there. I had a chat to one (A Welsh Speaker) and was pleased to hear that they had been given permission to start to prepare for next season. I was also pleased to hear that they are completely taking on board advice from our nutritionist. They are on a high fibre vegetarian diet and that they never touch alcohol. (Not such a good thing for our profits when we do eventually open the Club.) However, on the playing side they are fast and elusive. However, they are fairly new to the game and at the moment they do tend to follow one another around the field rather than cover the pitch. Also I don't think much of their kicking technique and I think we will have to play a fluid game rather than rely on kicking as an option, but that should make it an attractive game to watch. I do have one concern and that relates to discipline. There is a tendency to react in certain situations and to resort to headbutting as a form of retaliation. This is something that we may be able to control as they mature. I am sure that some of them are talented and will go far in the game. The BAA BAAS are certainly an option for future honours although I don't think it would be a good idea to promote them to be part of the LIONS team!!

Before we get too excited I did tell a friend of mine about our new team’s preparations and he responded with the following warning.

“Well, they do say that rugby players come in all sheeps and sizes..!!

I herd the other day that ewe had bought an expensive new fly half and that he arrived for training in a new lamb borghini... I thought that at the time this was a bit of a gambol.... !

I really think that someone has pulled the wool over your eyes and that you have been fleeced..!”

 

Apologies for that but as you can tell I have a fair bit of spare time.

Ron

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