Naming rights

Date published: Friday, April 2, 2010

ROUGHYEDS are already negotiating with an unnamed party for the sale of White Bank Stadium naming rights, revealed chairman Chris Hamilton at the press conference to spread the biggest news in the 13-year history of Oldham RLFC (1997) Ltd.

He said he and the club’s commercial manager Rachael Marsters had been working hard on selling a dream to potential sponsors and backers both locally and further afield and they had been highly encouraged by the responses they had received.

“We have never before been able to work commercially from the stand point of having our own ground,” he added, “and what a difference it makes.

“Only this morning, before I left the office to come to this press conference, I was talking to someone about ground naming rights and hopefully we will have a deal in place and ready to be announced in the next couple of weeks.

“That once instance clearly underlines the difference it makes when you have your own ground.

“This is definitely a historic day for the club, the town and for rugby league. We take a great deal of pride in what has been achieved and this day will live long in the memory of all those associated with the club.”

The platform party consisted of the chairman, Councillor Howard Sykes (leader of Oldham Council) and club coach Tony Benson.

Councillor Sykes said the council had done what was right and proper . . . and that was to “facilitate the Roughyeds coming home”.

Tony talked about the vast difference it would make to the playing side of things and then paid tribute to the work of Chris Hamilton in slogging away at this and finally seeing his efforts rewarded.

“For the club to find itself at last with its own ground is a fantastic legacy to all Chris has done,” he said.

Chris recalled the low point when Roughyeds were told they would no longer be able to use Boundary Park.

He said: “I went to the council and threw myself at their mercy — and for the first time in my life I went with a prepared speech because I wanted them to hear about all the hardships we had endured over the previous 12 years and I didn’t want to forget anything.

“All I can say now is that back then I never dreamed I would be in the position we are in today and for that I have a lot of people to thank at Oldham Council.

“We used eight venues in 12 years and only one of them was in Oldham. Trying to run a business in those circumstances and at the same time retain the interest of fans, players, coaches and directors has been immensely hard.

“But among the club staff and the volunteer helpers I am surrounded by some special people. You’ve got to be special people to stick with it at a club like ours with all the obstacles it has had to clear over the years.

“This is a momentous day. I’m still trying to take it all in”.

He said there was a great deal of work to do on the ground. The changing rooms, for instance, were not big enough and accommodation needed to be provided for the away teams.

Beyond that, and all the other work that had to be undertaken before the first game could take place there, there would be a five-year development plan in which Roughyeds would work closely with the club architects, Oldham Council, the RFL and local residents.

He added: “We want to do things right and we want to do them professionally, always bearing in mind that we want to associate closely with local residents.”

He said it was unlikely that the ground would be ready for the next home game on April 25 and the game on May 9 was the more likely one to be housed at White Bank for the first time.