Being associated with Wakefield Trinity in any capacity is often described as like being on a rollercoaster. To use that analogy, 2020 has for so many reasons been a “downwards” year. The impact of this terrible pandemic has been well documented and no one reading this needs me to remind them of the impact, both personally and for our Club. I hope however, that when we all look back on this year we will remember it also for some good things that have happened and some significant developments for the future.
Firstly, although in many ways 2020 has been a season to forget, there is much to be proud of. When the pandemic closed us down in March there was enormous uncertainty hanging over the game and all its clubs. As a Board we set out one overriding objective – to get as many of the Wakefield Trinity “family” through to the end of the season intact. Health, well-being and financial stability were the priorities.
I am so proud of the way that so many have responded andenabled us to achieve that objective:
• Club management, led by Michael Carter have managed our finances carefully and prudently, as ever. We remain in very stable financial health. In achieving this we have been careful to ensure we have paid our creditors on full; fully supporting the local businesses who work with us.
• All our staff responded magnificently to a request to take a temporary reduction in salaries to help us maintain this financial stability
• Our sponsors have been 100% supportive despite the many pressure they have endured.
• Above all, our magnificent and loyal fanbase have supported the club like never before. Despite only being able to attend two home Super League games and with all their own financial pressures, over 95% of our 2020 members agreed not to seek any refund and so many are already renewing their memberships for 2021. We are truly humbled by these many gestures of solidarity and support for the club.
All that magnificent support and positive “can do” attitude, which for me is what Wakefield Trinity is all about, has enabled us to finish 2020 in much better shape that we could have hoped. The last six games saw some great performances, not least from the crop of young players who have broken through this year. We have also worked very hard to strengthen the squad – retaining our best players and signing real quality where it becomes available. Kelepi Tanginoa and Mason Lino are the two outstanding examples so far.
Off the field, clearly the redevelopment of the stadium has been at the top of my agenda – for the past two years or so! Phase 1 was the purchase of the site in March 2019 and a year later we were ready to submit a planning application for Phase 2, just before the pandemic took hold. Given all the “false dawns” I have seen over the years I might have known something unexpected would delay us further!
Our release last week set out what is planned in this phase. The key principles are that we need to upgrade to acceptable 21st century standards for both players, staff and spectators andat the same develop an asset that can make us money all year round. The conferencing and multifunctional community space are crucial in that regard, as is the all weather 4G pitch.
Many of you will know that I am insistent that the negotiations around the stadium have to be conducted in private rather than across the media, social or otherwise. I know this can be frustrating, but it is the way it has to be, and will continue to be. As ever, you should only believe news from official sources ie. the Club!
Our next stage is to ensure we receive planning permissionand nail down the detailed specification. This will be informed both by the outcome of the planning decision and the views of many stakeholders. Watch out for your opportunity to contribute your views!
As you might expect, we are targeting building largely “off season” and thus are targeting September 2021 as a “spades in the ground” start date.
We often get asked how supporters can help the Club more than you do already. There are some very straightforward things you can do:
• If you are in a position to do so, purchase your 2021 membership whenever you can. This is the time of year that the Club needs those funds
• When doing your Christmas shopping, have a look at the treat range of kit and other items available at the Club shop. Online or in person as and when we are able to open.
• If you are able to go further, upgrading your membership to Platinum, signing up for Squad Builder, Trinity TV or purchasing additional lines in the Club 1873 lottery are all ways you can help.
I must stress that we are very conscious that these are challenging times financially for so many and so grateful for your support during this difficult year. As a Club, we don’t make commitments we cannot afford – and we don’t expect you to either.
2020 has been about steady nerves and staying calm in the face of so many challenges. That attitude will continue to serve us well as we enter 2021 but I really look forward to “releasing the handbrake” around the 11th of March.
Thanks for all that you continue to do for our Club. Your Board; Michael, Denise, John, Rodger and I wish you all a happy, and most importantly healthy, festive season.
Please stay safe and see you at Belle Vue next year!