If Lance Bradley were to leave Gloucester Ruby tomorrow his legacy, particularly during the pandemic, will be a stronger club.
He is open about the intense scrutiny the club put itself under through lockdown and does not flinch from communicating the gravity and impact of it all.
As financial pressures bore down, he made sure Gloucester Rugby chose community, re-invigorating links to county rugby clubs, taking on five young people via the government’s Kickstarter Scheme, and pursuing how it might be of more benefit to businesses.
‘You have to do that. You have to look after the people close to you. People have been living through some very difficult situations and they have always been there for us as fans and a city.
‘It is important to support them like they have stuck by us,’ said Mr Bradley, whose tenure as chief executive officer began September 2019, following a successful career at former Gloucestershire business giant Mitsubishi.
Connecting with the community has been about the grass roots of the game as well.
‘We have appointed Carl Hogg, Trevor Woodman and Tim Taylor. They are the very highest calibre, because our academy is serious for us. It is important people from Gloucester have a pathway through to play for the club.’
A key off-field appointment was Richard Smith as finance and operations director.
Embracing the Kickstart Scheme may have been made more attractive because of cashflow, but for Mr Bradley it is about the club’s business side also providing meaningful opportunity.
He made that clear in a sit-down chat alongside Gloucester MP Richard Graham, a champion of the job creation scheme for 16 to 24 year olds, and Oli Rice and Emma Rotherham – both working at the club as part of the scheme.
Financial pressures were alleviated by the government’s £88 million loan provision to Premiership Rugby Union clubs, but challenges came thick and fast.
A potential big hit came mid-pandemic when major sponsor Mitsubishi moved on as the car marque wrapped up its business dealings in the UK. But while not completely sidestepped, Gloucester Rugby has since secured a number of sponsorship deals, including the likes of Big Dug and Karcher, remaining on the lookout for a new main sponsor.
‘We have gone through every aspect of the club. Greene King is still our drinks partner, but we have renegotiated our deal. Winslow Brown has done a great job for years with our catering, but we are bringing that in-house.
‘We will focus on locally produced food and drink. We want to do what we can to support local businesses.
‘We have looked at ourselves and what we can do for businesses. We felt we could do more.’
Membership of its business club is currently free for any company which has been adversely impacted by the pandemic, with 160 already signing up.
‘We have done a massive amount of work in the last 12 months and we will keep working. We will come out of this stronger and vastly improved,’ said Mr Bradley.
By Andrew Merrell