A Merseyside rugby club struggled to secure finance to complete a critical upgrade to its facilities but has now got the £100,000 after turning to a business finance specialist. Tony McDonough reports
A Wirral rugby club has secured a £100,000 finance deal to help complete a 10-year project to improve player and community facilities.
With the help of Bathgate Business Finance, Eastham-based Anselmians RUFC will now be able to complete the scheme which was originally due to complete in spring 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project started in 2011 and involved improvements to player and member facilities and the build of a high-end event space and community hub. The aim is to drive revenue to support the club’s survival in the face of declining participant numbers.
Last year, the club was hit with increased costs and required additional funding for completion. But is was frustrated to find it was not able to secure funding from its own bank or usual lenders. They were focused on securing CBILS loans and nervous about investing in a hospitality-focused project.
It turned to West Kirby-based Bathgate Business Finance – a club sponsor since 2018 – following a recommendation by Richard Burnett, from the club’s solicitors Hillyer McKeown.
Bathgate property finance expert, Ben Humphreys, identified a funder that understood new developments and specialised in community led projects and brokered the deal. This ensured the club was offered a flexible repayment structure and competitive interest rates.
Jim McKenzie, executive director at Anselmians RUFC, said: “In order to exceed the expectations of our members, we always knew that some short funding would be needed, so it was extremely frustrating to find that we couldn’t secure finance through our usual routes.
“Bathgate stepped in and Ben was enormously supportive of the project from the start. We were pleasantly surprised by Bathgate’s portfolio of non-standard lenders. We found the whole team extremely easy to deal with and Ben was extremely effective in brokering the relationship between ourselves and the lender.
“We launched this project in 2011 with the build itself starting two years ago, so it’s been a long road. There’s a lot of excitement around the launch as people have been watching the project progress with great interest and we are already fully booked up for events until next spring.
“We now can’t wait to start operating and welcome our guests. We’ll be opening the doors of Eastham Pavilion to members on May 17, with many more private, public and community events to follow over the summer.”
The new facilities will be home to Wirral Community Hub, where Wirral Youth Services will be providing children and young people with activities, while the club will also be providing young people with more opportunities to get into the game.
Once fully open, the hospitality facilities will generate new jobs for the area, employing 15 people on a part-time basis initially, with ambitions to grow its staff base in line with demand.
Ben Humphreys from Bathgate added: “It’s been great to be able to help get this project over the line. The new buildings look fantastic. We’re happy to hear that there is already a raft of events booked for 2021 and beyond, including business networking events that we’re looking forward to supporting.”