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White: No regular season games in Milton Keynes

Posted on March 15 2017

Northampton Saints’ chairman-elect John White has today announced that the club will be playing all of its 16 regular season games in 2017/18 at Franklin’s Gardens.

White, who formally takes over the reins as chairman at the end of the current campaign, has begun planning for next season already and has set out his underlying principles for his forthcoming tenure in a letter to Season Ticket Holders being sent out this week.

These include:
- No regular season games in Milton Keynes in the foreseeable future
- Saturday as the Saints’ preferred day for home matches
- Ensuring that Jim Mallinder and the coaches have everything they need to bring success to the club
- Proactive engagement with all the club’s supporters

“Franklin’s Gardens is our home, and we’ve seen over the years how important it is to have a full stadium and a vibrant atmosphere to give the players the environment in which to thrive,” he said. “We have a unique stadium that is the envy of all of the other Aviva Premiership clubs and many in Europe, too, and we have to capitalise on this in the future and retain home advantage.

“We will never say never in terms of moving games and this is not a reflection on stadiummk as a venue, but for the foreseeable future we will be concentrating on bringing rugby supporters from across the region here to Northampton to get behind the Saints and join this great club.

“Club rugby, especially in the Aviva Premiership, is changing rapidly, but this is a sport with some great traditions and here at the Saints we’re committed to having 3 o’clock on a Saturday as our preferred kick off time and day.

“I think that everyone is well aware that Premiership Rugby and BT Sport have the final say on kick off times, but certainly in the first half of the current season there was no balance between Friday nights and Saturday afternoons for us at the Saints, which has caused a great deal of consternation among our Season Ticket Holders. I want to reassure them that we will be making the strongest possible representations to readdress that balance in the future.”

White, who played rugby both locally for Kettering and then at Franklin’s Gardens in the late-1970s before injury ended his career prematurely, has been a lifelong supporter of the club. In his time as group chief executive of Persimmon Homes he was behind the company’s long-term Elite Sponsorship of the club, and joined the Saints’ board of directors in 2012 before stepping up to become deputy chairman in 2013.

He says that the Saints is facing some clear challenges, on and off the pitch, but that it is well placed to meet them, provided that everyone associated with the club works together.

“On the pitch we are in a league where at least half the clubs have realistic ambitions of finishing in the top four,” he said. “This means that we have to give the coaching staff everything they need to succeed, which in turns imposes financial pressures on the commercial side of the organisation. Our majority shareholders and senior directors may have invested £1 million of new money into the playing effort, but we remain a club which is simply not able to incur the same losses seen at many of our rivals elsewhere in the league.

“Having the backing of all our Season Ticket Holders, supporters and sponsors is vital, and it’s always worth reminding everyone that every penny we make is reinvested back into the club. None of the non-executive directors are paid for their time, and no one has taken a financial dividend since we became a plc some 17 years ago.

“We also want to be having a proactive and positive relationship with all our supporters, and over the next few weeks will be announcing new initiatives as part of our strategy to grow the club over the coming seasons.

“Everyone at Franklin’s Gardens is as desperate as all of our supporters to bring success back to the Saints. We’ve enjoyed winning the trophies and we want more of that in the future. But we all have to work together to achieve that, which means that we will enjoy it all the more!”

Meanwhile the Saints has also announced that direct debit bookings are now being taken for 2017/18 Season Tickets.

Season Ticket Holders who currently pay by direct debit and who wish to continue doing so can relax in the knowledge that their bookings will be rolled over automatically by the Saints Ticket Office. The only reason to contact the club is to inform us of any change in circumstances, eg a change of address, moving from one seat or pricing category to another, different bank details, etc. Any such changes must be made in writing no later than Wednesday, March 8th, either by letter to the Saints Ticket Office or by emailing ticketoffice@northamptonsaints.co.uk.

Season Ticket Holders who wish to change to direct debit payments can download a booking form by CLICKING HERE and returning it to the Saints Ticket Office no later than Wednesday, March 8th. All other supporters who wish to sign up for a Season Ticket and pay for it in 10 interest-free monthly instalments can do so by downloading the same form and returning it to the Saints Ticket Office by the same deadline.

As well as having all 16 regular season games at Franklin’s Gardens, the Saints’ management is guaranteeing that Season Ticket Holders will never be undercut by any ticket offers that the club may run during the course of the season.

For all the details of prices and other benefits head to www.northamptonsaints.co.uk/seasontickets.

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