Wednesday 10th October 2012
Story in brief:
Castleford Tigers CEO, Steve Ferres addressed a packed out Civic Centre last night as he presented a frank appraisal of the club as part of its season ticket and membership launch for next season.
The in-depth presentation aimed to address fans' major concerns and put the 2013 squad and performance at the top of the bill. Confronting the disappointing season under Ian Millward, the Chief Executive admitted it had been an exceptionally hard season for the head coach following his tragic personal circumstances. Nevertheless, strong early results will be of paramount importance and he made it clear the Australian will understand exactly what the Board of Directors require from him next season.
With only six new signings for next year, Ferres also outlined the limitations the club faces in terms of further expanding the squad, admitting Castleford Tigers has little prospect of adding new players without additional outside investment. Its strength, however, was highlighted in the local talent within the team with 13 of 24 players having been nurtured through the Tigers youth scheme. He said "The future of all successful rugby league teams is in its youth development. Castleford is full of great young talent and the future of the club needs to lay its foundations in getting the best out of this talent and ensuring it stays with us."
Following questions of Rangi Chase's future at the club, Ferres confirmed that as it stands today he is a Castleford player. Any potential interest will be given due consideration and decisions will be made in the best interests of both parties.
The ultimate challenge for the club was highlighted in its current financial position which is impacting upon the development of every aspect of the business. The experienced former RFL consultant said, "The current business model is not working. We are falling short of the Super League's model club and we, therefore, need to look at ways to work smarter."
He added, "We are working in extremely difficult times and it is clear that we aren't the only club to be facing difficulties. Hull KR is one example who has already given an honest assessment of their current challenges."
The fragility of the economy was also emphasized as the key factor preventing the club from making progress with the new stadium which continues to remain at a status quo. Ferres continued, "The Board of Directors agree we need to look at alternative stadium options including re-development of the existing Wheldon Road site.
"The RFL are mindful of the testing economic climate and how it is impacting on the game generally. As a result, licensing requirements are being relaxed to enable clubs to explore different routes to ensure they achieve Super League status; the redevelopment is, therefore, a realistic and much more cost effective option and after the support we received for it from fans tonight, one which will be given serious consideration."
The Board of Directors, who joined the CEO on stage, supports his belief that the club needs to change and has confirmed it is openly looking for investors and potential new board members to bring the Tigers in to a new era.
Ferres said, "Identifying a new investor is integral to the club's future and will be a priority for me as CEO. In the meantime, however, there are ways we can improve the way we work and increase revenue streams.
"The introduction of a new membership scheme as part of the 2013 season ticket is our first example. It would make no sense to heavily discount season tickets; we have seen the effects this has had on the likes of Bradford. Instead we want to offer more to our fans with increased access to players and the Board, exclusive merchandise and discounts on a variety of local business through our savers scheme and all of which will give added value to a season ticket."
The savers scheme so far has seen 50 local retailers and restaurants sign up to provide unique offers to Tigers fans, with a promise of more businesses to be added. This is being spearheaded by Commercial Manager, Nick Fozzard who showed his boundless enthusiasm for the club as he talked alongside Ferres throughout the night.
There is no doubting the club has a tough ask, setting an extremely ambitious target of 5,000 season ticket holders. Ferres added, "Our fans are the most loyal I know and the turnout last night was testament to that. Castleford Tigers isn't a club without these fans and we want them to understand how important they are to its future.
"We know many are questioning their commitment to the club and reconsidering their plans to renew and I'm afraid I can't promise a team that will be fighting for a position at the top of the table. I can, however, promise a team that will deliver performances to be proud of and a club that will strive to reach its potential.
"We want fans to be a part of our future and we are keen to hear what they have to say. As a result of a fan's recent suggestion, we have set up a new email, email@example.com so I encourage those who have an idea for how we can improve the club to send them our way. We can't promise to implement every suggestion but we will review and consider each one we receive."
For more details on the 2013 season ticket and to sign up, please visit the website here: www.castigers.com/members or call the club on 01977 555 336.