A packed meeting of Hunslet RLFC fans at South Leeds Stadium on Monday (4 November 2019) has backed plans for the club to move towards a new ownership structure.
Hunslet has been run as a supporters-owned club since 2012, but a number of Board members have decided to stand down including Chairman Neil Hampshire. With Rugby League facing an uncertain financial future, the Board decided to invite expressions of interest from potential investors.
Three parties came forward. A consortium looking to take over the club completely soon dropped out, but two separate businessmen interested in working with the supporters trust were introduced to the meeting.
Damian Irvine has been around Rugby League all his life. He explained that virtually all clubs in his native Australia are community owned and he was a champion for the approach. Jason Peterkin, who owns 247 Blinds, has a family connection to the club he supported as a boy.
Both men support some type of hybrid ownership model relying heavily on the supporters trust, but standing in to underwrite issues such as the current budget deficit of £30,000. They will also bring their commercial expertise to the board.
The meeting agreed to both Damian and Jason being co-opted onto the Board for a 12 week period to undertake a review of the clubs finances and structure. Detailed plans for the club going forward will be brought back to a future meeting of fans.
Irvine commented on his appointment:
“It’s extremely refreshing to see a proactive and positive approach from the long standing club directors at Hunslet in identifying and acknowledging the impending financial pressures on RFL clubs in coming years, and seeking help and expressions of interest for new models and investment.”
“Other clubs have also experienced major change at boardroom level in recent months due to the need to change and ultimately alter their clubs course and destiny in a very challenging financial landscape for the sport.
“Hunslet have taken a measured and mature approach to exploring all options and we will know in 12 weeks time what the club can afford and what the best model of ownership is in future. Preserving majority supporter ownership is the priority and aim of our involvement and majority ownership of the club is not option for us on that basis “
“New members joined up on the evening with several pledging to complete application forms over the course of the next few days.
“Increased membership is vital for the club and cannot be stressed enough, with the ultimate success, future and control of club dependent on it.”
Details of 2020 membership packages and season tickets are available on the club website here.