$20,000 in pot for Turbos

BY PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 06/10/2009

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When the Save the Turbos barometer is filled with red ink, the targeted $180,000 should be enough to get Manawatu across the line.

That's quite a mission considering the money needed to render the Manawatu Rugby Union solvent and financial enough to charge into the premier division next year must be found by October 31.

However, union officials – who went door-knocking from last Wednesday – and supporters have already raised $20,000.

Mayors Jono Naylor and Ian McKelvie have assembled a steering group, managed by Palmerston North businessman Grant Smith.

The Higgins Group has promised to match every dollar raised from new business sponsors.

The public can make donations via the Manawatu Standard's Spirit of the Community Trust account.

The group's campaign statement is: "Imagine a running race where you start a lap behind the competitors, have just caught up but are then unfairly disqualified."

The group includes representatives from the councils, the chamber of commerce, supporters, underwriters, and media.

Rather than being a rugby union group, it is a community group seeking to involve the city and rural areas, with towns in Tararua, Rangitikei, and Horowhenua, also to be visited.

Mr Smith said a united approach was needed.

"You can do all the emotional stuff, and that's great. But we're saying, what are the boxes we need to tick? So we said we'd attack it with a co-ordinated approach."

Mr Smith said Manawatu has to be financial before they can ask the New Zealand Rugby Union to retain them in the 14-team competition, and must also show financial sustainability at that level from 2010 and beyond.

"Manawatu is fast becoming everybody's second-favourite team."

He said Manawatu expatriates around the country, many Massey University graduates, are following the team avidly.

"With the united fan base and the support the union has, there is regional pride around the place."

The steering group has many plans, including coming up with various schemes where donations can be made.

Donations to help save the Turbos can be deposited in the Standard's Spirit of the Community Trust account at BNZ, 02-0630-0016373-003.

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- Manawatu Standard

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