Cornish Pirates 'almost went out of business' before new funding - Dicky Evans

Cornish Pirates v Nottingham
Cornish Pirates are two points behind Championship leaders London Irish after three matches

Cornish Pirates were in danger of going out of business before new funding was agreed for the Championship club.

Former owner Dicky Evans has returned as a director as part of a £1.5m 're-capitalisation' of the club, which includes a tie-up with the Chiefs Super Rugby franchise.

"The club was in great danger of going under," Evans told BBC Radio Cornwall.

"I wouldn't have let it, no matter what happened, because my heart is in the club."

Evans, who saved the club from bankruptcy in 1990s, left in the summer of 2014, but agreed to remain a sponsor for the next two seasons.

This summer, after his sponsorship ran out, the club were forced to part company with director of rugby Ian Davies in a cost-cutting measure and operate with a smaller playing squad.

However, Evans, New Zealand-based Cornish businessman Colin Groves, shareholder Martin Hudson and former England player Martin Haag have all joined the Pirates board, with chairman Ian Connell among three directors stepping down.

"We had a situation where I had to come back to help fund the club going forward.

"We've got a good plan and a good club going forward and I've never felt more excited about the Pirates," Evans continued.

Stadium for Cornwall
The Pirates hope to move to the planned new Stadium for Cornwall in Truro,. which has been given planning permission but has yet to have work started on it

"I won't be putting as much money in as I did before, the money I put in before was just sponsorship, the money that goes in now is in terms of a shareholding.

"I'm putting in quite a lot of money this year, we've got to survive."

Chiefs Super Rugby partnership

Under the plans, the Waikato-based Chiefs will provide commercial and coaching assistance to the Pirates.

"The Chiefs have a strategy to build four worldwide international partnerships, we've got two already, one in Japan and one in south east Asia, so it's a natural thing to develop one in the UK," said chairman Dallas Fisher.

"There's am lot of similarities between Waikato where we're based and Cornwall and we're very excited about the opportunity to put something together.

"We're working on finalising a high-performance partnership with the Chiefs which would see coach swaps and the exchange of rugby intellectual property.

"The aim is the have that in place so we can start exchanges in May next year."

Stirling to return?

Chris Stirling
Chris Stirling led the Pirates to the 2011 and 2012 Championship play-off finals

Evans has also hinted that former Pirates coach Chris Stirling could return to the club.

Currently the high performance manager of the Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise in Wellington, Stirling coached at the Mennaye between 2008 and 2012, taking charge of the side from February 2009 until his departure.

"He said if the time is right and there's a possibility, we could actually take it forward," Evans added.

"Chris is a superstar and the boys would love to have him back. There is a real possibility that Chris could come back."