Pruned expenses put Manawatu on track

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 14/02/2013

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Judicious use of the pruning shears during the past season is expected to see the Manawatu Rugby Union's finances in reasonable shape.

All will be revealed at the annual meeting on February 27, and history has shown that it has always been premature to be too confident while the accounts are still with the auditors.

Chief executive John Knowles conceded that gate attendances for the 2012 season were not the best, down by about $50,000.

In 2011, the Turbos had the bonus of staging the Championship final in Palmerston North.

Knowles and the board cottoned on to the downturn in gate takings last year, and made cuts. Sponsorship income was up a little.

"We had to tighten our belts," he said. "A bit of care was taken over the course of the year.

"It should not be a bad result, given the year."

Having a Turbos membership drive helped, with commercial discounts attached, and 140 season ticket holders escalated to 850 memberships.

"This year we plan to launch a foundation member pack and hope it will grow quite well," Knowles said.

It will not include a discount for the Hurricanes-Stormers game at Arena Manawatu on April 26. That match is mainly a separate joint venture between Arena Manawatu and the Hurricanes franchise.

"We couldn't afford to take a risk on it," Knowles said.

He has since lopped a lot of money out of Manawatu players' salaries for the coming season.

"It has been steady as she goes. We have money in the bank for the first time in a long time.

"We still need to keep our heads down and keep the ship tight," he said.

Three board members must stand down by rotation, and all are available for re-election. They are chairman Steve Morris, Grant Smith and Steve Lee.

Two other candidates are chasing seats, and will be interviewed tomorrow by the board's appointments committee.

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