Expansionist Blog: London Skolars – A club all about giving back to the community

Drew Darbyshire

London Skolars may have a tight budget but most of the money generated goes straight back into the Haringey community.

In 2009, they ended up with the wooden spoon after finishing last in the League 1 table but they have shown improvements year on year.

They haven’t finished rock bottom since and have made developments both on and off the field. They finished 11th out of 16 last year, the highest out of any southern-based team in the division.

But it’s the work they do off the field that really catches the eye and general manager, Simon Fox, is a big advocate of that.

Fox told loverugbyleague.com: “I think we are in good shape and we’ve got a great venue in the New River Stadium and we are doing a lot of work in the community to get people in and around the stadium.

“We have got the Sky Try programme which we run in conjunction with the Rugby Football League and the London Rugby League Foundation but beyond that, we are about to launch an ambassadors skills scheme and we are aware that in Haringey, which is the fourth most deprived borough in the whole of the UK, we have got a lot of work to do and we are in a position of influence.

“It’s absolutely necessary that we support people in the community and make their lives better as much as we can and make their day a little bit cheerier and if we do that by helping them, going into schools and making them feel part of the club then that’s the way we need to do it and we are doing that.

“I was at Leeds United for three years before I came here and a focal point is embedding the community in with the club because we are a source of change. One thing we have got in Rugby League is that we have got players who are accessible, they want to do it and they are from them similar backgrounds so they want to help as well. We’re expanding and the community work is going well.”

The Skolars take on Wigan Warriors on Friday 19 January (2pm) in the Capital Challenge, an annual pre-season friendly that takes place at The Honourable Artillery Company, London.

And Fox revealed that the annual fixture works wonders for the club.

He said: “It brings in a significant amount of money to the club.

“The venue itself attracts the sponsors of Nasdaq, Bloomberg and Irish stock exchange and they find it a good proposition to come along in a morning to a conference that relates to their business but more importantly, on the back of that, it allows the club to have blue chip companies around the brand that people can recognise.

“It gives us the financial platform to move forward. It generates money for the club, it brings interest to the game in London and more than anything, it puts London Rugby League on the map.”

There is no doubt that there a lot of passionate people working for the Skolars at the moment. Haringey are certainly feeling the benefits from the community work and let’s hope it’s a good year on-field for Jermaine Coleman’s side.