Shop changes hands

January 1, 2000

The football club is set to take over the running of the Pirate Leisure shop from the Supporters Club.

 Many supporters are probably unaware that since the start of the new Millennium the Pirate Leisure shop, currently situated beneath the Uplands Stand, has been operated and staffed by the Supporters Club on behalf of BRFC. In the last few weeks the Commercial sub-committee of the Supporters Club has been in negotiations with Football Club Directors to discuss the return of Pirate Leisure back into their direct control. This has now been agreed and will formally take place on the December 1st. This action has been taken in preparation for the ground redevelopment. Both parties had always expected the switch back to Football Club control would take place once the new stadium was completed after our return from exile in Cheltenham. However, with the recent welcome news that the work will take place in stages whilst we remain playing here, the opportunity was taken to advance the shop handover and thus reduce the number of ‘jobs to be done’ whilst a major project was being undertaken.

 The Supporters Club took over the running of Pirate Leisure from the Football Club when it was operating from leased premises on Gloucester Road during a very dark period in Rovers’ history with relegation to the basement division looming and funds in short supply. With the shop, stock and ticketing came the staff too and everything was integrated within the Supporters Club’s operation from Two Mile Hill, Kingswood, although both shops retained their separate identities. In order to reduce costs we transferred PL into the stadium when space became available, (just about!), some six years ago.

I am very proud of what we have achieved by operating the entire commercial operation of a major football club over such a period of time. No other Football League club has, to my knowledge, entrusted its supporters’ organisation with such a responsibility. Such a success could not have been achieved of course without some incredibly hard work and dedication by a large number of people, but particularly the three full time staff members, Kay Monks, Clare McDonagh and manager Steve Burns, who will all transfer back into the employ of the Football Club from December 1st. I would like therefore to thank all three for their loyalty and hard work in less than perfect conditions. Likewise we have been most grateful for our regular part-time volunteers such as Ann and Zoe Paramore and Alison Gibson plus numerous others who simply turn to when we face ‘crisis’ periods such as two cup finals in one season, promotion play-off matches and quarter-final cup runs! I sincerely hope and trust that all those volunteers will continue to support Kay, Clare and Steve as the Football Club in the same way as they supported us over the last few hectic seasons. Treasurer Jane Browne also falls into this category as she has provided the back-up for the PL financial operation throughout the Supporters Club’s period of control. We have all become friends, if we were not already, during this time and it is very sad to ‘lose’ friends although nobody is going anywhere just yet of course. I wish the three staff members and the Football Club every success and happiness during what is sure to be a very exciting period ahead and assure them that the Supporters Club Executive Committee will continue to give every possible support to the Pirate Leisure operation.

I assure all our supporters, there should not be any notable change in the service provided either in Pirate Leisure or at Kingswood where our staff, Berni Clothier, Paul Seaton and Teresa Kolman, will continue to offer the same merchandise, ticketing and away travel arrangements as that given by Pirate Leisure. Kingswood is BRSC headquarters and we intend that it will continue to be so. Its location, despite being some distance from Horfield, is nonetheless situated in a hotbed of Rovers’ support and so provides a usual and convenient alternative to fans who would otherwise face a long journey to Horfield. I trust that this service will continue to be appreciated by all supporters of Bristol Rovers for many years to come.

Jim Chappell

Chairman, BRSC


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