Rugby club turns to members for help

North Walsham Vikings have asked members to dig deep after seeing their hopes for regional domination fall by the wayside, leaving a financial hole to fill.

North Walsham Vikings have asked members to dig deep after seeing their hopes for regional domination fall by the wayside, leaving a financial hole to fill.

It is two years since Walsham were relegated from national competition, having harboured grand plans to go professional and cement their place at the top of the region's rugby tree, writes Michael Bailey.

Now they are back playing in a regional division - one they share with Norfolk rivals Diss - and those aims have been replaced by consolidation and hopes that everyone at the club can pull together after losing two major sponsors.

New chairman Richard Flatters, who returned to the club three weeks ago after John Farrer brought his three-year tenure to an end for family reasons, is confident Vikings will weather the storm.

Flatters said: 'North Walsham Rugby Club is a business and has been for a number of years, and that's a consequence of its days in the national league, and this is as a result of it having been more successful than it currently is.

'I have written articles in the past about how much it costs to run the club and there has even been talk in the past of merging with Norwich because of it.

Most Read

'In terms of whether we have got money problems, we haven't got a main sponsor because of the economic situation and another pretty big one has dropped out, so money is tight.

'But we've been in this position before and what we did was to go to the members and ask for support, and then when things improve quite often the loans get repaid.

'That's where we are at this time, but it's tougher because of the economic situation; no one has got any money.'

The Rugby Football Union has set up a helpline giving advice for clubs in financial trouble, as well as instructing clubs to register as limited companies - something Vikings are looking to change their club constitution to achieve.

Walsham sit in relative mid-table safety in the London and North-East division of the National League and Flatters does not expect there to be any issue with the Vikings fulfilling their fixtures this season, or surviving longer term.

'There is no issue with that at all,' he said. 'We are no different to other clubs and the RFU has set up a helpline because so many are struggling in the current financial climate. The game has gone professional and clubs have changed the way they have done things.

'North Walsham have been here before, where we've had a tilt at something, haven't been successful and then had to make up for it afterwards.

'It's the adjustment from coming down from the national leagues, the transition to the London league, less people are coming to the games and those who do come are spending less money when they're here.

'But I'm comfortable with where we are. It's all about pulling together and everyone doing their bit. Whereas before you got someone in to do the job, it's back to us getting on our overalls and doing the job ourselves.'

Flatters would not confirm how much money had been asked of members, who are set to discuss the matter at North Walsham's annual meeting, which will be held at Scottow on December 2.