Barrow Raiders held a planning meeting this week with a view to putting together a programme of events to bring in much needed revenue through activities off the pitch. Despite no rugby, last summer proved to be highly successful as we diversified and made full use of our open-air venue and we would be fools not to repeat the exercise.

We are a club that has been steadily increasing our turnover these last few years and it actually doesn’t take that much effort to change from a half a million to a million pounds turnover. We saw the success of our beer garden and repeating that could provide the revenue to improve facilities and improve the team. It is so important that we bring in enough money to match our ambitions.

Obviously, this year the pitch needs protecting so we have made the bold decision to remove the section of terracing to the right of the grandstand, completely flatten it and erect a permanent marquee venue. Our timescales are tight, but we feel that we simply must take advantage of the period of April and May when only outside hospitality can open. We had hoped to build a more permanent structure that would also include additional changing rooms and education facilities for our community programme, but the prices quoted were simply too prohibitive.

Even the marquee option comes at significant cost but if we can keep the popularity of last summer then we are hoping that we can generate the profits required to eventually have something to last forever. We also appreciate that the team may need strengthening as we aim to climb the leagues.

We feel that the marquee that will be 270 square metres comes with loads of opportunity. We could book it out for functions, could become a pre-match VIP area, could be our own venue for sponsors evening, sportsman’s dinners, and presentation evening. We are creating a venue that Barrow is sadly lacking, and the board are all excited about its potential. Midweek it could be used to support our community programmes and with heating there is no reason why it couldn’t be used as a venue throughout the year.

The commercial department has been severely affected by the COVID pandemic, so we are delighted that this marquee option has allowed us to plan a sponsors evening. We have pencilled Friday 23rd April as a date for your diary and we hope that plenty of our fans make an evening of it. All our fans will be more than welcome to attend to boost numbers and all the players will be supporting the event.

We also met with the council this week and we aim to work with them and the police closely to ensure that the venue is safe and responsible. Looking further ahead we have firm plans to have a 2-day concert in July in partnership with Knight Promotions and we have plans to screen the England games in the European Championships. The purchase of a big screen is on our shopping list and you will have seen our Rochdale fixture moved to a Saturday so that we can welcome a four- figure crowd for the England v Croatia match on Sunday 13th June. Exciting times ahead.