Rocks Review: Club need local backing more than ever

Rocks fans have been praised for their support for the team - now local firms are being urged to follow suit  Picture by Tommy McMillan
Rocks fans have been praised for their support for the team - now local firms are being urged to follow suit Picture by Tommy McMillan

The Rocks have told the local business community: We need you more than ever.

Bosses at Nyewood Lane are launching a new drive for sponsors to help them survive at Ryman premier level - which they say is becoming increasingly difficult without a major investor.

The club had a tough season financially.

Despite more than 100 firms and organisations pitching in as sponsors last summer, they faced big outgoings with medical bills and some lower-than-average gates and ended the season making a loss.

Now they are hoping even more local businesses will pay £150 plus VAT to sponsor the club for the 2013-14 season - and stand a chance of becoming the main shirt sponsor.

Sponsors’ draws, which have been held by the Rocks for many years, are becoming increasingly popular among non-league clubs. Chichester City are trying the same method for the first time this year.

Rocks general manager Jack Pearce said times were tough for clubs like theirs.

“We had more than 100 in our draw last year and their support was very much appreciated. But with the season we had, we still didn’t cover all our costs.

“To survive and compete at our level of the non-league game is becoming harder and harder. There are so many clubs in our division who have a major financial backer and that’s how they do well.

“Our fans come to games in great numbers and I feel frustrated for them and for the managers that we can’t compete more evenly.

“But having even greater numbers of local businesses behind us would be a big help.”

For £150 plus VAT, a company or group is entered into the draw, which will take place in late July in front of an audience of all who have entered.

The big prize is to be pulled out as shirt sponsors - something that Havant Motor Factors had the privilege of being last season.

Other entrants are drawn out as matchball and matchday sponsors and everyone who enters will get some publicity at the club during the season.

Pearce said: “We hope all those who were involved last season will enter again, but it would be nice to see some new names and faces getting in there.

“The message is we will not be able to carry on competing at this level without the continued support of our fans and sponsors.”

The 2012-13 campaign for the Rocks was a successful one. They finished in a comfortable 14th place on their return to the Ryman premier and reached the Sussex Senior Cup final, in which they lost to Brighton’s development squad at the Amex.

But the campaign was blighted by injuries - which cost the club thousands - while a dip in form in February and March put paid to any hopes of a play-off push.

The Rocks are hoping for a pre-season financial boost when Guy Whittingham takes his Pompey first-team squad to Nyewood Lane for a friendly on Saturday, July 13.

It will be one of the first opportunities the Fratton Park faithful have to see Whittingham’s new-look squad in action ahead of their League Two campaign.

Anyone who wants to enter the sponsors’ draw, or find out more about it, can ring commercial manager Maurice Warner at the club on 01243 822325 between 10am and midday any weekday.