The board of the Headingley club are seeking £1.5m this year and roughly the same again over the next two seasons as part of a three-year financing package.
The appeal comes nearly three seasons after a new board of directors, led by local businessman David Dockray, launched a similar scheme on the back of the club’s rebrand from Leeds Carnegie to the county-wide name they now possess.
Back then, the rebrand was built on Sir Ian McGeechan’s vision for the club to prosper on the strength of players flowing through their county-wide academy programme.
Nine investors, new and old, came forward and over the last two-and-a-half seasons have put £2.8m into the club, but despite reaching the play-off final in May, Carnegie have not succeeded in earning promotion to the Premiership. They will also receive reduced funding from Leeds Beckett University this year, and the Rugby Football Union.
Hence the need for a refinancing plan. Chairman Dockray, in an address to fans via the club’s website, said: “We need to put a lot more financing in over the next three years. This season that will probably be around the £1.5m mark. To get back in the Premiership, that will rise substantially.
“The shareholders have been fantastic and some will want to continue supporting us, but you cannot keep going to the same well all the time and that’s why we’re about to mobilise another financing round, seeking new shareholders. We’ve got a competitive and determined team, a clear plan for moving it forward, but we have to resolve the financing of that over a three-year period. There are still very good prospects for this club.
“We want to retain the vision of a Premiership team in Yorkshire, based on Yorkshire talent with Yorkshire support on the terraces and in the bank account.”
Carnegie’s budget for the new season, which begins on Saturday, is understood to be lower than last year’s and dwarfed by that of Bristol, who are favourites to win promotion via the first-past-the-post system. McGeechan said: “Our first-team squad is a smaller squad so we will need that little bit of fortune not to pick up injuries in key areas. But the aim is to be competitive at the very top of the Championship.”