Kevin Reilly, Chairman of the RSPBA (above), has confirmed that ‘nothing is off the table’ in the Association’s quest to find venues for three major championships next summer.
‘If for example Cowal or the All Irelands come calling then we will consider them,’ he said. Mr Reilly was speaking after his letter to member bands this week. It outlined the difficulties the Association is facing in securing arrangements for three remaining Majors.
The Scottish Championships are at Levengrove Park, Dumbarton, on July 27, and the Worlds at Glasgow Green on August 16/17. The Europeans, UK and British are all in a state of flux.
The Association are hopeful that word will come next month on the UKs, held for the past few years in Northern Ireland. Outside of that there is nothing concrete, with local authorities struggling for money.
‘It is time to think out of the box,’ said Mr Reilly. ‘We have a team actively looking at all options. This includes sponsorship. We might have to take on shared responsibility with an events organiser.
‘Our team is working tirelessly to find solutions. We are open to any date, any geographical area. We have contacted towns all over the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
‘We have produced a pack detailing how they would make money from a championship. The economic impact is positive and considerable. It is estimated, for example, that Dumbarton makes between £1.5 -£2m from its staging of the Scottish – and they give free entry to everyone!
‘Moreover we know that Aberdeen made a profit from running the Europeans last year. This event was so successful that local bands have launched a petition to have it restored. I went to thank them for that and I can confirm that I have signed it.
‘We like the idea of the Worlds being the final event, the climax of our season, but if we have to go beyond that date then we have to go beyond that date.’
The ‘Majors Team’ are exploring how a championship could be split over several minor contests, Grade 3 British at Dunbar, Grade 2 at Lesmahagow, for example. (Names chosen at random to illustrate the point, not to confirm anything.)
‘What a boost that would be for a minor contest,’ Mr Reilly continued, ‘and I don’t think the logistics would be insurmountable.
‘Given the difficulties we are having it is clear that the old ‘council contract’ model is not fit for purpose.
‘What about sponsorship? I believe this would be attractive to companies. Think of the exposure their name and products would get with their hoardings round the Grade 1 arena at a major championship. Videos of these events are watched by tens of thousands of people around the world.
‘I can assure all of our member bands that we are working very hard on a way forward. No effort will be spared. In the meantime I want to thank everyone for their support and suggestions.
‘Please contact Headquarters if you feel you can help in any way. As I say, we are open to all ideas. We are determined to give the bands the 2024 season they deserve.’
- Read yesterday’s story on this issue here.