While Gloucester Rugby stole the headlines by announcing its new training facilities beside Kingsholm Stadium, the impact its plans are designed to have on the club’s bottom line are also significant.
Lance Bradley’s official grand reveal at the 1873 Club on Tuesday 15 June 2021 saw the chief executive officer emphasise the new training facilities and thank Gloucester City Council for smoothing the way, only hinting at the potential commercial wins afoot.
On hand to meet the media, emphasising everything was ultimately about creating a virtuous circle driving performance on the pitch, was head coach George Skivington and chief operating officer Alex Brown.
An MBA under his belt and an ‘apprenticeship’ off the pitch served under the likes of David Humphreys, Mr Brown brings the passion to his senior role that won him more than 230 appearances in a Cherry and Whites shirt.
‘I love this club. I love the sport. I love the challenge of the business side. We want this club to be top of the Premiership. We want to be financially sustainable.
‘This investment will allow us to play more games, entertain more people, support more businesses.’
Which outlines Gloucester Rugby’s business plan. An artificial pitch allows the club to make its cash cow (Kingsholm Stadium) payout more regularly than once every fortnight, opening the door to women’s rugby and academy games as well as other events.
‘The whole commercial team will also move to the building. That’s about 30 staff,’ said Mr Brown.
The new warehouse will become a new business, also home to its new training facilities and will be the new commercial headquarters of Gloucester Rugby too.
‘When match days are on, staff numbers triple to 300-plus as it is. It is a move that will create jobs.’
Pictures not part of the official press release, courtesy of Liverpool-based Shove Media, show a huge hall, big screen and bar area under the roof of the former SLG warehouse. More matches and events through Kingsholm Stadium means more hospitality.
In 2019, Gloucester Rugby’s accounts show it took more than £1 million over the bars at the ground in the 2017/2018 financial year, and that was with only 16 home games and no summer concert.
Turnover that year was £15.7 million – with £3.8 million from gate tickets. The new hospitality will have a members’ club too.
What will happen to the room left when the commercial team vacates its Kingsholm Stadium offices and the 1873 Club – if anything? No one was saying.
‘There will not be as much room left as you might think,’ said Mr Brown, also dismissing our wild guess of the potential for boutique accommodation.
The club has just renegotiated its deal with Greene King, which supplies its beer, and taken its food provision in-house in readiness for the new era. It is no secret Gloucester Rugby owner Martin St Quinton has a major interest in Gloucester Brewery.
It is a property deal which used the expertise of Cheltenham-based BPE to make it happen. Gloucester-based Neptune Building Services is already on-site transforming the space ready for an indoor artificial pitch, courtesy of Verde Recreo, and gym equipment from Sportesse, which also works with England Rugby, the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) and the NFL.
‘Phase one is underway now,’ said Mr Bradley. ‘When we are more financially secure, when we have fans back in the ground, we will begin phase two.’
Read more: Gloucester Rugby unveils new training centre near Kingsholm
By Andrew Merrell
Follow SoGlos on LinkedIn and sign-up to the weekly SoGlos business newsletter for the very latest Gloucestershire business news stories.