The Harlequins team are on track for the highest number of season ticket holders in the club's history following financial difficulties through the pandemic.

Twickenham Stoop Stadium is home to Harlequins men and womens' teams and is currently in its recovery stages post-Covid.

The stadium was part of a fan-pilot scheme, and was able to hold around 4,000 supporters in its stadium towards the end of the season back in May and June.

While this was a “success” according to CEO Laurie Dalrymple, he reported that the club had made losses of around £13million across two financial years during the pandemic.

As a result, it has relied on investors, fans, players and staff who have been a “lifeline” for the club.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Mr Dalrymple said that the club “hasn’t stood still” and has tried to extrapolate the positives from what has happened over the past 18 months as much as possible.

He told the Richmond and Twickenham Times: “After a difficult time, we’ve been talking about visions for the next 12 months and beyond and how we stand, and, ironically, we’re in a really exciting space now in order to move the club forward.

“We are double champions and won the league despite challenges, and our only regret is that we didn’t have our fan base there in numbers to support the team and engage in the success.

“Even through that, though, our digital channels have grown significantly and our engagement with our fan base has significantly increased, so despite losses, we made significant inroads in many of the optics that we would measure success against.

“Now, we think we’re on track for the highest number of season ticket holders in the club’s history for the forthcoming season.”

Mr Dalrymple, who has been Twickenham Stoop's CEO since November 2019, explained that staff and players took pay reductions while sponsors, partners and investors helped to save the club.

He said: “We are incredibly humbled and grateful for the absolutely vital lifeline of cash we had to make sure we were secure.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Pictured: CEO Laurie DalrymplePictured: CEO Laurie Dalrymple

“Our supporter base have also been so incredibly loyal and committed.

“A big proportion of our fans didn’t request a refund at all and therefore donated their funds to the club that they’d invested in season tickets.

“Or, they were happy to take it as a credit so then they could use the money for the subsequent season.

“The reliance we’ve had on different individuals has been so significant, and of course we did have strategies in place, but I can’t underplay how difficult it’s been.”

Mr Dalrymple had hoped that when doors were forced to close last March, players would be back in the stadium for some type of normality in May.

He said that while it has taken 18 months rather than the initially expected four to six weeks to get back, the club won’t be back to normal for a significant amount of time to come.

The CEO added: “It’s taken months and months to get to the point where we can deliver to fans.

“When we started to get back to training there was an extensive testing programme that we had to do regularly across the entirety of the playing group and support staff to make sure everyone was safe.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

“It’s part of the nuances of professional rugby and contact sport – the proximity of individuals is far closer and has complexities.

“Indications do show there’s more of a growing confidence of coming back to live events, and our 2,500 to 4,000-fan pilot events were a success, so we need to continue that – but with an element of caution.

“We’ve gone back to the DNA and looked at how Harlequins should live and behave, and a lot of the growing confidence is undoubtedly born out of our success on the pitch last season.

“We’ve done some introspective reflection and worked around our identity and us as a club, and the values we stand behind and behaviours we operate with.

“We really hope fans coming back will feel confident when coming back into our space, and we are providing as much safety as possible for supporters when they come through.”

In reflecting on the past year, Mr Dalrymple said it has been a “rollercoaster which no one ever wants to be on”.

He added that it is the developed understanding within the Twickenham community that has helped them through.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

He said: “Everyone wants to stop at the peak of a rollercoaster, and we’ve had to make difficult decisions in restructuring employees and losing some good people but it’s for the long term sustainability of the club.

“I’d love to say that everyone who lives in Twickenham is a Harlequins fan but I know that some people are ambivalent and may not have an interest in sport or rugby and that’s completely fine.

“But, hosting big events and recovering in a global pandemic requires a great deal of communication and we took a lot of time to communicate with our neighbourhood and community about what we were doing.”

Mr Dalrymple added: “We want to be an even bigger community club and show what this brand and club stands for in Twickenham and surrounding areas.

“I’m enormously proud of everyone, it’s been super tough but I’m equally super excited about what the future can hold for the Harlequins.”