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Fighting back: How Newcastle City kept its season alive

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Newcastle City players almost didn’t take to the field this AFL season.

COVID-19 put a stop to several revenue streams that make playing possible, such as fundraising events like pub raffles, trivia nights and, the best of all, karaoke.

Newcastle City Vice President Courtney Knight said it was losing the club’s major sponsor that hit the hardest.

“The Commonwealth Hotel was our major sponsor and, because the pubs had been closed, they couldn’t sponsor us this season,” he said.

The club also took into account the loss it would record from its usual match day revenue due to limited home games, such as vehicle entry fees, canteen takings, and spectator fees.

“It’s had a significant effect on the club and we were looking to fill a hole of about $30,000 to $40,000,” Knight said.

“We were at risk of not being able to conduct footy, so we sat down as a committee and devised a plan to bridge that revenue gap, and our answer was the raffle.”

The Toyota Good for Footy raffle has been helping grassroots football clubs since 2015, with 100% of the funds raised going directly to each club involved.

Prizes include Toyota vehicles, with four given away nationally, along with coaching clinics with star players and signed memorabilia.

“To have the raffle has been a positive for us and a get out of jail free card,” Knight said.

“If it wasn’t for it, we wouldn’t be able to hold footy this year.”

So far, in the highest ever call to arms the club has seen, it’s raised $12,000.

The money has gone towards operational costs such as ground hire, uniforms, trainers, physios, and new equipment.

“In the past, we typically used the money from the raffle for things we were saving towards that were part of our strategic plan, like our electronic scoreboard, goal post pads, and carpet and paint in the clubrooms,” he said.

With 150 senior players and 400 juniors registered this season, finances aside, things have still been challenging for the club.

“The raffle allowed us to concentrate on footy and what we are doing on the field and not stress too much off field, but the impact of COVID-19 has been huge, not just financially,” Knight said.

“We’ve had to buy hygiene products, split training sessions, schedule different times and access to the grounds.

“It’s been an onerous burden on the club – it’s necessary and we support the direction, but that’s not to say it’s been easy, it’s been hard to manage.”

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