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John White: Read the Chairman's programme notes

Northampton Saints chairman John White is looking forward to a crucial Gallagher Premiership clash this evening, with the Club’s Foundation also set to take centre stage.

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

Good evening and a socially-distanced ‘hello’ once more from Franklin’s Gardens ahead of tonight’s Gallagher Premiership match against London Irish.

I am hopeful that this will be one of the last times I have to type out the phrase ‘socially-distanced’ as part of these welcome notes! On Monday, the country moved on to the next phase on the government’s roadmap out of covid-related restrictions, and while crowds are not yet allowed into stadia in the UK, this was a very important step as we look towards the weeks ahead. Not only have we gone on sale with Season Tickets and Hospitality for the 2021/22 campaign already, but with another easing of restrictions scheduled for May 17, we can start to plan for matches this term which may feature limited-capacity crowds again. We are set to play Wasps on Saturday 29 May, and then Exeter Chiefs on Sunday 6 June, and expect to announce a fair process in due course for applying for tickets for those matches – which will, as previously promised, place those supporters who rolled their Season Tickets over to next year at the front of the queue.

“It was a real pleasure to hear from so many of you earlier this week during our online Supporter Forum.”

John White, Chairman

It was a real pleasure to hear from so many of you earlier this week during our online Supporter Forum, which this year we made available for non-Season Ticket Holders to view live, as well as our members. With just under 500 people on the call and a huge volume of questions sent in for Mark Darbon, Chris Boyd and I to answer, it was evident that despite a year away from Franklin’s Gardens, the passion of our supporters for the Club and its future is as strong as ever before. We discussed the incredible work our executive team and staff have done to stabilise our financial position after the most turbulent year in the history of Northampton Saints, as well as covering topics such as player recruitment, supporter engagement, the long-term vision for the Club and plenty more besides. If you missed it and would like to catch up, a recording is available to view on our YouTube channel.

This evening marks an incredibly important occasion for the Northampton Saints Foundation, and we are delighted to support them tonight for their first annual ‘Takeover’ match. So many charities have been unable to undertake fundraising events and activities on anything like the usual scale over the last 12 months, and the Foundation is no different. Moreover, without crowds present at Franklin’s Gardens on matchdays, the Foundation’s matchday fundraising income – from activities such as bucket shakes and EcoCup donations – has been completely wiped out too.

“Tonight’s game represents a unique opportunity for the entire Northampton Saints family to show their support for the Club‘s Foundation.”

John White, Chairman

While their income has been dramatically impacted, referrals to Foundation programmes have significantly increased as a direct result of the pandemic. So, their fantastic work is more important than ever, and tonight’s game represents a unique opportunity for the entire Northampton Saints family to show their support by making a donation, entering the raffle, or bidding in the auction. For more information, please visit the Club’s website – all money raised during this ‘Takeover’ match will go directly towards helping the Foundation to change lives and create positive futures for young people in Northamptonshire.

On to tonight’s game, and – as ever in the Premiership – our opponents are certain to provide stiff opposition as we look to keep the pressure on the sides directly above us in the standings. London Irish have invested significantly in their squad over the last couple of years, have moved to a new home in Brentford, and sit just below us in the table – so, they are clearly one of the league’s rising forces. They also like to play what Chris Boyd affectionately refers to as an ‘optimistic’ style of rugby, meaning that (like Saints) they look to offload in contact, spread the ball across the park and attack with blistering pace.

I’m sure on that basis we’ll see an entertaining game this evening, but with a key period ahead for us in the league, I know Northampton will be going in all guns blazing to secure a victory.

Enjoy the match, and come on you Saints!

John White

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