OLDHAM RL Club has slashed admission prices for Sunday’s third-round Coral Challenge Cup tie against community club Haydock in the hope that it can whip up interest in a competition that could potentially provide a financial lifeline.
Roughyeds, and other Betfred League 1 clubs like them, are banking on a run to the later stages of the Challenge Cup like never before, given the changes in central funding from the RFL and the fact that each of the 11 clubs in the division has only ten home league games this year.
Oldham have had two of them already, producing an average attendance of 655.
At a time of financial worries throughout the sport, the very future of clubs like Oldham will inevitably depend on how many supporters pass through the turnstiles at every home game this season, cup or league.
In a brave bid to encourage more Oldham people to support their Oldham team in Sunday’s cup-tie (3pm kick-off), the club has slashed turnstile prices from £14 to £10 for adults and from £12 to £8 for concessions.
It remains at a nominal £2 for under-16s, but junior season-ticket holders get in FREE for this round on production of their season-ticket books.
Other than that it’s all pay, as has always been the case for shared-gate cup-ties in which half the take goes to the opposition.
Chairman Chris Hamilton will spell out the reality of the financial challenges facing all clubs, and especially those in Betfred League 1, when he and other members of his recently-formed managerial team meet fans at an open forum in the Vestacare Stadium social club tonight (Tuesday, 7pm).
“We’ve substantially cut admission prices to encourage more people to attend. Half the receipts will be going to Haydock so that’s all the more reason why we need a decent attendance.
“As we’ve got only ten home league games all year, revenue from cup ties this season is going to be absolutely vital, which means we seriously need people who care about the club and about the future of pro rugby in Oldham to support us at the turnstiles in all home games.
“We need to grow our fan base and one of the ways we can try to do that is to offer discounted admission prices at selected games, Sunday’s cup tie being the first.”
The club hopes season-ticket holders will lead by example in showing their support at an all-pay, split-gate cup-tie for a club that so seriously needs it.
Slashing prices is one of several initiatives being launched by the new eight-strong managerial team, comprising of the chairman, Anne Kearns, Roger Halstead, Dave Naylor, Dave Murgatroyd, John Davies, Ben Whisker and Julie Collins.
Its brief is to increase attendances, raise the club’s profile across the borough and beyond and build on what is already a thriving social media presence.
The chairman will tell fans tonight:
“It’s a team that will give everything its got for this club, but their efforts can only be successful with the backing of every supporter.
“We need each of you to be an ambassador for Oldham RLFC and to support the leadership in all its efforts and all its initiatives.
“We could potentially have three more cup fixtures in the next month and we need to do all we can on and off the field to give ourselves the best chance of being part of that.”
The last thing Roughyeds boss Scott Naylor will do is take his squad into a pro-am cup-tie undercooked. He will give Haydock every respect and so he should given that two years ago at Bower Fold they met Oldham in a fourth-round tie and shot into an early 8-0 lead before Naylor’s men eventually got on top and won comfortably after a competitive tie.
Nevertheless, Oldham will be expected to be in the hat for next Tuesday’s fourth-round draw, to be followed immediately by the first-round draw for the new 1895 Cup, which is for clubs outside Super League and also has its final at Wembley.