Rugby Union: Scarlets check colour of money

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RECORDS are there to be broken, and so far this season Llanelli have been rewriting a lot of the Heineken League bests on the field. This weekend, though, the Scarlets will be seeking to break through two significant barriers off the field as they attempt to add considerable fortune to their mounting fame.

Having astonished everyone by amassing a league record of 79 points, (including 11 tries), at Newport last weekend, Stradey Park should be full to overflowing tomorrow for the visit of the reigning First Division champions, and traditional arch-rivals, Swansea.

'If we can't fill the ground for this game then I don't think we ever will,' said the Llanelli commercial executive, and second row, Phil May. 'We have a 14,000 capacity and there is tremendous interest in the match. We've had 13,000 here for a league game against Neath before, but we're looking towards breaking that record.'

The reward for the club if they do could be the first pounds 100,000 take from a single club rugby match in Britain. A full house would be a British league record attendance. With admission charges of pounds 5 to stand and pounds 6 to sit, a crowd in excess of 10,000 is likely to place pounds 50,000 in the coffers.

Not a bad start. Add pounds 4,000 for match sponsorship ( pounds 1,500 for the main match sponsor and pounds 1,250 each for two companies in the hospitality suites) and anything up to pounds 10,000 for on-the-day advertising around the ground, and in the match programme.

The bars will account for a further pounds 10,000, the club shop between pounds 2,000- pounds 5,000, and programmes can bring in another pounds 5,000. Television rights for the game, car parking, match-ball and mascot sponsorship and other entertainment will improve the figures.

All this comes a week after the club banked pounds 18,000 for retaining the WRU Cup last season, the same month as they received pounds 10,000 for merely taking part in the Heineken League and a fortnight after the club announced a three-year extension to their sponsorship deal with brewers Crown Buckley, worth more than pounds 150,000 over the previous three years.

With income like that, and a game against the world champions, Australia, to come in November, then future plans to spend nearly pounds 1m on turning Stradey Park into one of the premier sporting, leisure and business entertainment venues in Wales could soon become a reality.

But then as May, the veteran of more than 525 games for the club, is quick to point out, success off the pitch is geared by what goes on out on the grass. On that score he has a greater insight than most.

'This is my 20th season with the club and I don't think I've ever been involved with such an exciting squad,' May said.

'The performance against Newport was awesome, even frightening in a way. We were determined to start well this season, but I don't think anyone imagined we would get off to a start like this.'

It will not be easy against Swansea and just to show they are not ready to be overshadowed by their Scarlet neighbours they scored 73 points, and 11 tries, against South Wales Police last weekend.

It all adds up to a bumper occasion at Stradey Park tomorrow - on and off the pitch.

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