Chairman, Peter Harper, thoughts on what’s gone on at Macclesfield Rugby Club over the course of the 2017-18 season.
Recently Macclesfield Rugby Club held its AGM. Some of you may have already ready Chairman, Peter Harper’s, report on the season as a whole: others may not yet have come across it. The detailed report made interesting reading for anyone with an interest in Macclesfield RFC. Part of Pete’s report related to the rejection of the planning proposal submitted to Cheshire Council jointly by Macclesfield Rugby Club and Jones Homes, and the rest related to what has gone on at the Club over the course of the 2017-18 season.
Pete’s report was very comprehensive and addressed all of the issues that have, or might, affect the Club in the foreseeable future, but by its very nature, Pete’s report could only cover some of these important issues in the briefest terms. So, this week the Club has decided that it would let Pete tell supporters in a little more detail what exactly has happened over the course of the last 12 months. He also talks about Macclesfield Rugby Club’s financial future, the adoption of the new One-Club ethos, and the implications both of these will hopefully have for Macclesfield in both the short and longer term.
Here’s what Chairman, Pete Harper had to say:
Did Cheshire CC’s rejection of the joint planning application by the Club and Jones Homes come as a surprise, or had the Planning Committee already indicated that the application was likely to be rejected?
‘It was always going to be a close call, as housing is an inappropriate development in the greenbelt. It was recommended for refusal by the officers but we were hoping it would be a political decision and the fact the club may close, and the community benefit that would be lost, would sway members to go against the officer’’ recommendation.’
‘However, the members were not worried about the possible closure of the club and believed it would not close but instead continue in some way shape or form without the investment.’
What, in your opinion, was the reasoning behind the Planning Committee’s rejection?
‘The judgement that the benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm when weighed in the [overall] planning balance.’
How has that decision affected the Club’s plans for the future?
‘The club will continue to promote the [planning]proposal but through the Local Plan with a view to the site frontage being allocated for housing in the Local Plan Part 2 allocations.’
Do you feel the Club has found its natural level in National League 2 North, given the financial constraints the Club faces: or do you still believe the Club has the wherewithal to compete at a higher level?
‘We’re currently rebuilding the side, and being in National League 2 gives us the opportunity to blood home-grown players at a level they can compete at: so in answer to the question, yes the club is playing at a level where we are competitive. We’ll play to win every game we play, and if that means we finish top of the pile, then so be it.’
What’s the reasoning behind dropping the Blues, Lions, 3rds and 4ths names, and just using the generic name Macclesfield Rugby Club?
‘We are focusing on the ‘One-Club’ ethos so that everyone from Under 6’s through to contracted players in the First Team squad feel a part of the same club; and as part of this process, every player from Under 6 to First Team will wear exactly the same playing shirts from this coming season.’
Do you think this will broaden the overall appeal of the Club and make it a less exclusive organisation?
‘Exactly that, and we need to `sell` ourselves as a community club for Macclesfield and lose the conception that we are an exclusive, private members club. Hopefully, the ‘One-Club’ approach, and also the introduction of a Ladies Team and Girls’ rugby, will help with this process.’
Are you now looking to make the Club more of a social and community enterprise, where everyone is welcome regardless of whether they actively participate in the game?
‘Absolutely. Anyone and everyone is welcome to be a part of the club, whether as a player, supporter, coach, sponsor, volunteer or in whatever capacity they feel comfortable. With this in mind we are looking into a `Friends of Macclesfield Rugby` association, where people can feel part of the extend family that is Macclesfield Rugby Club.’
Do you feel the future for the Club is bright?
‘We are having to make some tough financial decisions to ensure the club survives, but I feel that the members are responding to the `siege mentality` currently surrounding the club and a number of members have held up their hand to do what they can to help.’
‘So in answer to the question, if the planning had gone ahead, the future would have been very bright indeed, but the club is more than bricks and mortar – it`s about people and we have some very good people in our club, so I`m cautiously optimistic about the future.’