Evans sunset plan to end funding support for Cornish Pirates

By Richard Whitehouse   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Tuesday 15th March 2022 5:31 pm
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Dicky Evans

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The man who has supported the Cornish Pirates and led the drive for a Stadium for Cornwall has announced a “sunset plan” to end his funding of the rugby side.

Dicky Evans, the Penzance born entrepreneur who has bankrolled the Pirates for 27 years, announced how he will provide a £2.5million fund that will support the side for the next three years.

In making the announcement, he also said that he hoped that his legacy would be to see more Cornish sportsmen and women reach the top of their games.

Over the years the Pirates team has helped a number of young players develop their skills, including current England players Jack Nowell and Luke Cowan-Dickie.

Asked if he hopes that more will get that opportunity in the future Mr Evans said: "Absolutely, yes. We have had some really good players come through, Jack Nowell and Luke Cowan-Dickie are both Penzance boys. There is a lot of talent in Cornwall and they deserve that opportunity."

One of the key parts of providing that opportunity will be the Stadium for Cornwall which would provide a new permanent home for both the Pirates and Cornwall’s top football side Truro City.

Currently, the Pirates are in the second tier Championship whilst Truro are playing their home games outside Cornwall.

Under the proposals, the Stadium for Cornwall would be built on land at Langarth on the outskirts of Truro and would eventually be suitable to host top-level Premiership rugby.

The Pirates currently sit in third place in the Championship but under current rules would not be able to take the step of promotion to the Premiership as they do not have a ground suitable.

However the Stadium has reached a deadlock as it requires funding from the Government and Cornwall Council to go ahead. Planning permission is in place, and Mr Evans said that once the funding is locked in work can start.

A business plan for the stadium was delivered to the Government, Sport England and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport which is aiming to secure £14m for the project.

Mr Evans said that he was hopeful that a positive outcome would be reached for the scheme but added that it needed people in Cornwall to show their support.

He agreed that it needs a roar similar to that heard at the Mennaye when the Pirates score a try to ensure that the Stadium also gets over the line.

Mr Evans said that they were following a similar template to that of the Exeter Chiefs and the team’s Sandy Park stadium which has gone from strength to strength in tandem with the team on the pitch who have, in recent years, lifted the Premiership trophy and been European Champions.

With the ‘sunset plan’ announced today, Mr Evans is aiming to provide sufficient support for the club whilst new investors are put in place to take it forward. The announcement will also see the end of Mr Evans providing financial support for Truro City.

In a statement, the club said: "Interest is expected to be keen from Cornish and International parties. This is a strong proposition for the right person or people. Pirates have been in two Championship play offs and this season may well win the league. The staff and coaching team at Pirates have an exceptional track record and remain committed to the club.

"The Stadium has planning permission in perpetuity thanks to Dicky’s investment of £1.3m in design and legals to get to this stable position. With new investors, a strong team and the development of a Stadium to the standards demanded by the RFU, Pirates will have the capacity to enter and remain as a competitive Premiership side."

Mr Evans said: "I have enjoyed every minute of the last 27 years and as we say, ‘once a Pirate, always a Pirate’. I would never let the team down. This move is my last gift to them, handing on a successful club with a large and loyal fan base, to investors with the will and capacity to see the Pirates into the Premiership, up to the top of that league and into Europe. This is my Sunset Plan, but a new dawn for Pirates."

Speaking about the announcement he said: "I am handing over to other people, there have been some great times over the years and some memorable moments. We have a very good team in charge and they will be able to take the Pirates into the Championship."

Pirates Chairman Paul Durkin added: "Dicky Evans is a home-grown champion without whom Cornish Pirates would not exist. He saved us from bankruptcy and led us up division after division to the very top of the Championship. His tenure will be forever a golden age for Pirates."

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