LOYALTY cards have become big business on the high street.
But now Scotland’s oldest rugby club is about to launch its very own card scheme to give season ticket holders access to discounts and deals at a number of local businesses.
Edinburgh Academical’s new card could see match-day fans enjoy a pre-game slap up feed at a trendy Stockbridge eating spot or even a few cut-price pints after the game, depending on the wishes of participating businesses.
The move apes the success of popular loyalty card schemes – such as Nectar – which link users to particular brands, such as Sainsbury’s or Argos.
Discussions with Stockbridge traders are taking place to work out which businesses will be participating – and the numbers involved.
Visiting supporters could also get the same discounts by showing their own membership cards or being given fliers on game day. Accies executive chairman Frank Spratt said: “It would be a different offering with each of the businesses. It is entirely up to them what they want to offer. It might be a special offer or otherwise.”
“It gives the traders an opportunity of seeing what benefit there is coming from the club as well.
“It’s just to try and encourage our members as well to use the local economy and shops in Stockbridge. We’re trying to help others and ourselves at the same time.”
Details of the initiative have been released just weeks after an extensive revamp for the club’s historic home ground at Raeburn Place went back out for public consultation.
The proposal, to build a 5000-spectator stadium and 1780 square metres of retail space, was first mooted last year after previous plans for a new clubhouse fell through three years ago.
A heritage museum celebrating 150 years of history at a site where the first-ever rugby international was played is also in the pipeline. A final ruling is likely to be made by Edinburgh City Council in July.
Stephen Brennan, chairman of Stockbridge/Inverleith Community Council, welcomed the plan – which is based on an existing arrangement with the Montpelier Group – owner of Ricks, Tigerlily and the Opal Lounge bars, where club members get a ten per cent discount.
He said: “Anything that encourages people to shop in Stockbridge and not some retail park five miles away has got to be good for locals.”
Inverleith ward councillor Iain Whyte said: “I’d imagine there might be some who are a bit cynical about this given there’s a planning application in the offing, but in general terms I’m supportive of anything that’s a good link between local sports clubs and local businesses.”
The four-day Brodies Champions of Tennis competition featuring some of the best players in tennis history, including former world No.1 John McEnroe, will be held for the first time at Accies’ ground in June.
Tournament director Viki Mendelssohn backed the scheme, saying: “I think it just shows a willingness to partner with the community and to make sure everyone benefits. More clubs and sports organisations should think about it.”
The Evening News recently revealed how Stockbridge was hailed the third coolest place to live in Britain in a survey.