Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fans Rally to Falcons Cause

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fans Rally to Falcons Cause

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith

EVEN the imminent threat of relegation has not prevented Newcastle Falcons' supporters from backing the club in their droves, with season ticket sales well up on last year.

Despite finishing bottom of the Aviva Premiership and facing the prospect of Championship rugby in September, season ticket sales are already 10% up on the same time last year.

In addition, all executive boxes at Kingston Park have been sold for the whole of next season, some on new three-year deals, and the club also has firm offers on the table to become their main shirt sponsor.

This feel-good factor comes despite a back-drop of the club's worst league position in 15 years, with Newcastle rock bottom of English rugby's top-flight after a turbulent season.

Their prospects of retaining Premiership rugby for next season now rely on Cornish Pirates beating London Welsh in Wednesday's Championship final - a match in which the Pirates trail by 16 points after the opening leg.

A London Welsh victory would leave Newcastle at the mercy of the RFU appeals procedure or even the courts as Welsh look to pursue all avenues for promotion, despite their intended home stadium in Oxford having failed an independent audit on the minimum standards criteria.

The push to manoeuvre the London side around the regulations is gathering considerable momentum from the national media, and even in Parliament following the tabling of an Early Day Motion.

Newcastle, for their part, are silently watching matters unfold as the spectre of a prolonged and messy appeals process looms.

Their supporters, it seems, remain unperturbed by the uncertainty over what league their team will be playing in, with season ticket sales already past the thousand mark more than three months before the start of the campaign.

Much of the credit for that lays at the hands of Dean Richards, the incoming director of rugby.

The former Leicester and England great does not even take up residency in the North East until mid-August when his worldwide coaching ban expires, but the feel-good factor is already tangible among the region's rugby public. …

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