Business park boost for ambitious Featherstone Rovers

Featherstone's new general manager Davide Longo: "I think Wakefield district is absolutely key to manufacturing and distribution." Picture: John Clifton.
Featherstone's new general manager Davide Longo: "I think Wakefield district is absolutely key to manufacturing and distribution." Picture: John Clifton.

Featherstone Rovers are set to use 19 acres of land they own at Big Fellas Stadium to create a business park that will give the club year-round income.

The first phase of 22 offices is ready to be built early in the New Year.

Featherstone’s new general manager Davide Longo believes non-rugby related revenue will be crucial to the ambitious Championship club’s long-term future and their aim of achieving Super League status.

Longo, who has worked at Wakefield Trinity and Leeds Rhinos, says Rovers are looking to be “self-sustainable” by the time they celebrate their centenary as a professional club in 2021.

“It’s a very similar environment at Featherstone to what Wakefield was and massively different to what Leeds was,” said Longo.

“Because I experienced it for 11 years at Wakefield it’s not been eye-opening for me as such.

“The same challenges exist and I think they exist right across Wakefield district because we’ve got three clubs playing in this area but one thing I can honestly say about Featherstone is that they’ve put their money where their mouth is and they’ve invested in the facilities.

“I think right across Wakefield district facilities are lacking but Featherstone is a shining example of one club that has invested in that.

“They’ve not had to invest lots of money in it. They’ve had to be pro-active and had to be ambitious in doing that and that ambition is still going to be there going forward for the next couple of years.

“We are looking at creating the Featherstone Rovers Business Park on site. We have 19 acres of land round here and it’s not returned any investment into the club for 100 years. That’s crazy when you think of that.

“If we can start to make the land work for us, certainly what excites me is bringing more business on site because if we get that right then those businesses should be investing back into the club in some way or other.

“The first phase will be 22 offices, with 12 along the ground floor and ten above. Hopefully, that will be starting around January time.

”It will be at the side of the clubhouse so basically we are filling the gap between the 70-metre volunteer stand and the clubhouse.

“Mark Campbell (Rovers chairman) has done some great work out there right across Wakefield district and secured lots of interest in people wanting to become part of the office space.

“The other part of it is the storage facilities we’ve got at the back of the 70-metre stand. Again, we’ve got companies who are wanting to take them up as storage or unit space. And again there’s a real demand for it because I feel there’s a real lack of it around Wakefield district.

“That’s the market we are looking at engaging. It’s quite ambitious but by 2021 that’s where we want to be because that will be the centenary year of the club and by then we want to have a club that’s self sustainable with having rugby league as a by product.

“I think Wakefield district is absolutely key to manufacturing and to distribution so we just want a piece of that pie basically.”

Because Rovers own their stadium and surrounding land, Longo feels they are much better placed than some other clubs including some currently in Super League.

“You have a club that operates on the field only a limited number of times a year but facilities that demand money spent on them 365 days a year,” he added.

“You’ve got to be driving income streams and revenue streams through the club when the season is not being played and that’s where our ambition is now.

“If tomorrow Sky removed the funding from rugby league, Featherstone would be in a very strong position because they own their own stadium and they’ve got the chance to generate income through some of the assets they have and some clubs haven’t got that.

“I think some Super League clubs would be in a very vulnerable position if the Sky money was to be removed and I think it’s great that Featherstone Rovers are looking to the future and Mark (Campbell) is bringing in the right people.”