Troubled Birmingham and Solihull Rugby Club has been handed a financial lifeline by its generous members - but still faces finding thousands of pounds in the coming weeks to avoid falling foul of its creditors.
The club, which secured promotion to the second tier of national rugby last season under the guidance of coach Russell Earnshaw, has already been pledged almost £60,000 in gifts and loans from members of the club to cover the most pressing bills but the club still needs thousands of pounds more to cover its immediate financial commitments.
The club was thrown into turmoil earlier this month when Solihull Council’s planning committee rejected the club’s planning application for a housing development on its Sharman’s Cross Road ground over a lack of affordable housing in the scheme.
If approved, the deal would have released several million pounds for the club as well as bringing forward a long-planned ground-share at Damson Parkway with Solihull Moors FC.
Last week the club managed to postpone a winding up order from the Inland Revenue - set to be heard last Wednesday - after a payment was made of £50,000 which had been provided by the club’s directors in the way of loans.
However, at an emergency meeting held last Thursday to discuss the club’s next move following the failure to achieve planning permission as well as the club’s parlous financial state, members were told that Inland Revenue was still owed £100,000 with a £15,000 payment due at the end of this month.
The meeting was also told that the players had yet to be paid for July - which had been due on August 1 - nor had players’ back pay for their deferred income from January to April. Other creditors including a catering and marquee company were also owed several thousand pounds and a payment plan was being agreed with them to prevent a further winding up application being made.
The club’s financial director Manoj Bhardwaj told the meeting that the club needed about £100,000 over the next 12 weeks for working capital before sponsorship and regular income including gate receipts and television money for the new season supported outgoings.
Despite the financial challenges facing the club, chairman Brian Marshall was upbeat about the future.
“We are certainly going to make it,” Marshall said.
“Most of the players were in the meeting and are up to date with the financial situation.
“They can see that the rank and file members want to support them. And we have got a damn good team put together by a first-rate coach.
“Russell addressed the meeting on Thursday and was given a round of applause.
“He has become something of an iconic figure at the club and is a mainstay of what we are trying to achieve.”
The Bees begin the new season in the Championship a week on Saturday.