By GARETH WALKER of League Express
GARRY Schofield says clubs like Keighley Cougars need to act now to secure their long-term future.
Schofield is an ambassador for the League One outfit and is working extensively on the commercial side to bring in more revenue, with the ultimate aim of becoming an established Championship club within the next three years.
He is heading up a number of new initiatives and says that part-time clubs – amid talk of restructures and central-funding cuts – need to take matters into their own hands.
“Clubs absolutely have to do that,” said the former Great Britain star.
“If the central funding does go, it could be crisis time at many clubs, and we have to be proactive.
“We have to survive somehow, and at Keighley, we want to engage people to be part of this journey and vision that we have.
“My aim is to get the town’s supporters and companies, no matter how small or large, back involved with the Keighley Cougars.
“The club has got a vision and is on a journey, and we want to be a stable Championship club by 2021 ahead of any changes in the structure there might be.
“If we don’t make that journey then the reality is that clubs like Keighley could be forced to go to amateur status.
“My target is to engage companies in our 100 Club, where 100 different companies invest £500 a year. For that, two people can come to any game and get the club’s full hospitality package, and they also get two season-tickets for 2019.
“For spectators who might not be able to afford the £500, we have our own Squadbuilder, which is £11 a month with £1 going to charity and the rest of it into improving the quality of the squad and the club.
“Fans know that their money isn’t going to pay water or electricity bills, it’s all put towards building a quality squad that can get us where we want to be.
“We’ve started this journey by signing Darrell Griffin, and we have good quality English coaches here in Craig Lingard and Nathan Graham.
“From the top this club has ambition, but at the same time we’re not over-ambitious and this not the new Cougaramania – that has been and gone.
“This is a journey to get us where we want to be if there is a restructuring of Rugby League and we want people to enjoy being a part of it.”
Schofield is confident that backers of the schemes will get value for money with the Cougars.
“The hospitality suite at the club is second to none, and I’ve seen a fair few in the Championship and League One,” he explained.
“The quality of service and food at Cougar Park is up there with any of them.
“We want people to come and enjoy Keighley Cougars on and off the field, and while doing it, contribute to helping us buy the quality of player that we need.
“I’ve been out meeting different sponsors and supporters and I do see the potential here, I’ve told the Keighley people that I’m all about being open and honest.
“In the past, some of them have been burnt and let down, but it’s not the same people here now and we want them to come and be part of our club.
“If they ask an open and honest question then I’ll give them an open and honest answer. I’ve really enjoyed it, although it is a challenge.”
The Cougars are holding two events ahead of the new initiatives.
All supporters and companies interested in the 100 Club can attend a function at Cougar Park on Friday, July 6, where Schofield, Lingard and Griffin will help to present the club’s vision. On Friday, June 29, the Cougars will hold the first of a series of luncheons, which are open to all.
There will be entertainment from Wigan comedian Jamie Sutherland. Anybody interested in attending the events can contact Schofield at firstname.lastname@example.org