Hunslet RL gaining from tie-in with Ebbsfleet United FC

Hunslet are benefitting from their unique link with a Kent non-league football club, non-executive director Damian Irvine reckons.

Monday, 25th May 2020, 12:00 pm
Damian Irvine. Picture: Hunslet RLFC

Irvine is chief executive at National League Ebbsfleet United and says the two clubs can learn from each other.

The Australian who has also been chairman of NRL giants Cronulla Sharks, insisted: “Hunslet and Ebbsfleet play different sports, but are very similar clubs, in fact `the Fleet’ were a supporter-owned club – as Hunslet are – in the not too distant past.”

He said: “Ebbsfleet are faced with the same issues, particularly with regard to Covid-19. I’ve been able to pass on advice and knowledge gained from the clubs’ respective dealings with the Rugby Football League and the Vanarama National League.

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Ebbsfleet, in red, defend against Halifax in a National League game at the Shay in March. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

“Matters such as player and coach welfare, commercial and sponsorship issues and the implications of playing behind closed doors affect both clubs in much the same way.

“I’ve been happy to offer valuable insights - and perhaps raise issues for one sport that might have been overlooked a little by the other - through my involvement with both sports

“I’ve been able to offer advice to Hunslet from Ebbsfleet’s experiences and I’ve done exactly the same the other way round.”

Irvine believes there are practical ways the clubs can help each other, including acting as a base on away trips.

“Hunslet can stop off at Ebbsfleet’s ground if they’re away at London Skolars, to use the facilities for their pre-match meal and preparations and Ebbsfleet can reciprocate by utilising South Leeds Stadium or the Phoenix lounge in the same way if we are playing at somewhere like Halifax or Harrogate,” he suggested.

“In either case, players and coaches would be in a friendly environment ahead of a match, which is no small thing and there will be cost savings which will help immensely.”

Irvine added: “There’s also scope for the fans to get behind the other club.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest there is in Kent in the oval ball and I’ve no doubt many of Ebbsfleet’s supporters, who travel in numbers, could be tempted to stay over after a Saturday match in Yorkshire and watch a Hunslet home game the following day.

“On the same basis, Hunslet supporters could get along to Ebbsfleet when the club has a match in the south.

“I can see a real bond developing between the two clubs. Both have a very welcoming group of fans who take great pride in inviting new supporters and interest into their clubs.”

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