Plymouth Albion shareholders pledge funds to save club

Plymouth Albion's chairman says the club's shareholders have pledged half the £200,000 they need to fund the club through to the end of the season.

Shareholders met at the Brickfields on Wednesday to discuss the financial problems at the Championship club.

"We did get a very positive response," Graham Stirling told BBC South West.

"We're not there yet, there's still a big job to be done, but it's really encouraging to get that support during the meeting," he added.

"Everyone agreed that we needed to do everything possible and it's essential that we make sure the club survives."

The club will also appeal to other categories of members and debenture holders as they look to try and make up the shortfall in their accounts.

The problems came to light after sponsor Nigel Passmore examined the club's accounts as part of a prospective £125,000 sponsorship deal.

While looking over the accounts he agreed to pay the wages of new head coach Pete Drewett, who was after the sacking of Graham Dawe.

But he pulled out of the deal, which led to Drewett's departure, having seen the amount of money he felt was needed to keep the club going.

Passmore believes Albion need a sum closer to £500,000 to survive until the end of the season.

"In mid-December I requested a full meeting of the board of directors of the club where I informed them that they needed a figure of just over £500,000 to cover the funding shortfall to the end of the 2011-2012 season, four times what I had initially been led to believe," he told BBC South West.

"On 20 December I wrote to each member of the board informing them that as the funding requirement was significantly different from what was originally portrayed, I could no longer be involved and that I had serious concerns as to their trading viability."

In the meantime coaches Nat Saumi and John Roberts will take charge of the club.

"Nat and John are in place certainly as a minimum for the rest of the season," Stirling said.

"They've been around, they know the club, they do a good job and the feeling is positive within the camp."

But the Albion chairman also said the amount of money Championship clubs get from the Rugby Football Union (RFU) is not sufficient.

Last season teams got £320,000, which rose to £340,000 this season.

"It is a struggle in the championship," Stirling said.

"The RFU set us up to be a fully professional league. The RFU are also looking at the funding level that comes into the Championship clubs because they recognise that something more needs to be done.

"It's not adequate, that funding should be driving up towards the £1million level."

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