The Coventry Telegraph has raised more than Â£50,000 in two weeks in an appeal to try to save one of the country’s oldest and most famous rugby clubs.
Coventry RFC went into financial administration in February, but was allowed to complete its fixtures in National Division 1, the second tier of English rugby. The Rugby Football Union demanded a bond of Â£100,000 from the club to guarantee its fixtures and financial obligations for the next two seasons, and held a meeting yesterday to determine the 134-year-old club’s fate.
The local paper stepped in last month and has run an appeal that has raised more than half the required amount. The RFU granted the club an extra two-week reprieve because of the Telegraph‘s campaign.
A decision is expected from the RFU by noon today. If the newspaper appeal is deemed not good enough, then Coventry RFC, formed in 1874, winners of the national cup competition in 1973 and 1974, and whose players have included David Duckham, Zinzan Brooke, Fran Cotton and Danny Grewcock, will be relegated eight divisions to the basement level of local rugby.
A statement on the club’s website read:
“The response to the Coventry Telegraph‘s appeal has been overwhelming and the amount raised to date is a testament to the true Coventry spirit. We wish to express our true gratitude to absolutely everyone who has helped and donated over the past two weeks.”
The Coventry paper’s rugby correspondent, John Wilkinson, who has covered the club for 14 years, said: “In two weeks, it’s an unbelievable amount to come from fans and the general public. We had a day collecting money in the city centre which raised Â£2,000 alone.”
Donations have been received from the dean of a cathedral in San Francisco, as well as from New Zealand and Mallorca.
Wilkinson said of the RFU’s decision: “What I’m hoping they will do is see the groundswell of feeling in the city to keep the rugby club going and give recognition to the part the people have played.”