Exeter Rugby Club Chairman and Chief Executive, Tony Rowe OBE, heralded a “fantastic” past year – on and off the field – for the Aviva Premiership club when addressing the club’s members at their Annual General Meeting held at Sandy Park.
Building on the success of previous years, Mr Rowe remarked on a hugely positive 12 months for the region’s premier sporting club, highlighted by the fact that they were the most profitable club in the Premiership.
Rugby income, which was bolstered thanks to the staging of three Rugby World Cup fixtures and Exeter’s best-ever campaign in top-flight rugby, plus significant yearly growth of Sandy Park Conferencing and Banqueting Centre, saw a £3.76m increase in turnover to £16.98m, a rise of just over 28 per cent.
Mr Rowe (pictured) said: “The figures produced are hugely encouraging and show that the club’s Board of Directors continue to run the club very much as a business. These profits were obviously enhanced by hosting three very successful Rugby World Cup matches and the team performing extremely well on the pitch, reaching the last eight of the European Champions Cup and hosting a home semi-final in the Aviva Premiership for the first time.
“At the same time, Sandy Park has also continued to show a growth in income, which is particularly pleasing after a period of recession and the signs moving forward are very encouraging.”
The success of Exeter’s 2015/16 campaign not only brought impressive financial results, but on the field the club were also able to show their upward curve with a first-ever appearance in the Aviva Premiership final at Twickenham back in May.
And those performances did not go unnoticed with a number of the club’s players being selected not only for their countries at last year’s Rugby World Cup, but subsequently for the Six Nations, Summer and Autumn Test matches.
Finance director Alan Quantick also reported that the financial success of the past 12 months had also helped to put a reduce significantly the club’s borrowing and that moving forward the club would continue to be in a strong position.
After members approved the club’s accounts for the year, as well as re-electing Bob Staddon as Club President, members of the board each gave detailed and positive reports on the club and Sandy Park moving forward.
Among the topics raised was the continued success of the club’s Academy set-up, which in the past year had seen the likes of Max Bodilly, Jack Maunder and Joe Simmonds all make their senior debuts in the Premiership.
A number of the club’s other highly-gifted youngsters were also mentioned for their contributions at first team level, including 17-year-old prop Marcus Street, a product of Exeter College, who recently featured in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
“Our Academy is phenomenal and the envy of all our rivals,” added Mr Rowe. “Again this past year we have seen a number of local lads, who have come through the system, all make their senior debuts and we’ve got more behind them.
“I have a dream that one day we will be able to field a whole team of players who have come through the Academy – and I don’t think that day is too far away!”
Looking to the future, Mr Rowe outlined how Sandy Park continues to be a venue that people want to experience and not just for rugby.
He continued: “This December alone we have over 5,500 diners coming to celebrate Christmas with us, whilst numerous companies are making the most of our outstanding and much-improved facilities on offer within the building.
“Next year we will not only be welcoming the European Grand Prix Sevens back to Sandy Park for a third successive year, but in February we will also be staging England Under-20s against France Under-20s in the Six Nations.
“This again underlines that Sandy Park is a stadium fit for international rugby and one which can be showcased in all it’s glory around the world.”