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John White: Read the Chairman's programme notes

Northampton Saints chairman John White is relishing the prospect of a sell-out crowd at Franklin's Gardens this evening.

Read John's welcome and more in tonight's official matchday programme, on sale for £3.50..

Hello and welcome to Franklin’s Gardens for tonight’s Gallagher Premiership clash against Exeter Chiefs!

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas, and it’s fantastic to see so many loyal Saints supporters turning out to support the side under the lights this evening – it’s our first sell out here at Franklin’s Gardens this season and I know it will make a huge difference for our boys out on the pitch.

"I’m confident this investment will be a catalyst for the continued growth of Northampton Saints."

John White, Chairman

I must start off by mentioning Premiership Rugby’s landmark new partnership with CVC Capital Partners. This is very positive news for club rugby in England, and should be transformational for Northampton Saints over the coming years. This major investment into the club game, alongside owners and Premiership Rugby, supports the ambition for further growth of the Gallagher Premiership domestically and internationally. The investment is a huge validation of the league and the clubs, and will not only support the development of infrastructure across the Club, but also improve our supporter experience and help us reach new audiences. I’m confident this will be a catalyst for the continued growth of Northampton Saints and sets the course for a sustainable financial future.

Our trip to Timisoara a fortnight ago was certainly one that none of us who were on the trip will forget in a hurry! Our first-ever excursion to Romania was certainly a frustrating one, given we not only saw our fixture cancelled but also were delayed in returning to the UK for 24 hours, but I wanted to extend my thanks to our incredible travelling support. Both the playing staff and the 80-strong group of supporters on our flight were incredibly patient and kept on smiling despite the circumstances. We also must thank everyone at Timisoara Saracens for their generous hospitality, but the weather unfortunately won out. Thomas Cook Sport were also excellent in adapting to a difficult situation, and I’d urge you all to book with them for our next trip to Clermont in January. Places are still available and the Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin is an extra-special place to visit with one of the best atmospheres in club rugby.

"We’re delighted to be hosting another huge name in Madness at Franklin’s Gardens."

John White, Chairman

We were very proud to make two big Club announcements for next summer earlier this month. After the success of last year’s Lionel Richie concert, we’re delighted to be hosting another huge name in Madness at Franklin’s Gardens on June 28. The group has an amazing back catalogue of music – I’d forgotten just how many hits they have within their extensive repertoire. I can’t wait to see thousands of both Saints supporters and new faces alike streaming through the gates of Franklin’s Gardens once again. Tickets are on general sale now, and are very reasonable starting from £40 each. We also have some fantastic hospitality options available, please visit the Club’s website for more information.

Not only will we be rolling out the red carpet for Madness, the Club will also be hosting a Tough Mudder event at the end of May. It is a long-term aim of ours to ensure Franklin’s Gardens becomes a world-class multi-use venue, and this event represents yet another way we are able to use our stadium 365 days a year. Tough Mudder – much like rugby – is aimed at athletes of all shapes and sizes, from complete beginners to seasoned runners, and shares many of our sport’s values in rewarding teamwork over individual accomplishment. While I cannot promise to take on the course myself this summer, I’ve no doubt it will prove to be a hugely popular venture for us!

"A packed-out Franklin’s Gardens under the lights is sure to provide a unique atmosphere."

John White, Chairman

Looking at today’s match, we clearly have formidable opponents in front of us. Exeter Chiefs and Saracens have shown they are the top dogs in the league at the moment, but – as we proved for most of the game here against Saracens earlier this season – we have the ability to mix with the very best. We’ll need to be at the top of our game, but there’s no reason why we can’t get the win.

The Premiership is so tight at the moment that a couple of victories will propel any side up the standings, so make yourselves heard this evening and get behind Northampton Saints – a packed-out Franklin’s Gardens under the lights is sure to provide a unique atmosphere.

Enjoy the game, and come on you Saints!

John White
Chairman