RFU projects losses of up to £50m in next 18 months
England’s Rugby Football Union, the national governing body for the sport, could suffer losses of up to £50 million ($59.5 million) over the next 18 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, chief executive Bill Sweeney has revealed.
Sweeney said the closure of Twickenham will have the biggest impact on its revenues as the venue generates 85 per cent it, with each match at the 80,000-seater national stadium bringing in more than £10 million.
The RFU, and its counterparts at the Welsh Rugby Union, announced last week that the remainder of the 2019-20 seasons for all league, cup and county rugby teams will be cancelled, with England’s Premiership Rugby the only competition to resume.
Sweeney, who reportedly earns around £600,000 per year, said he and the RFU’s executive team will be taking pay cuts of more than 25 per cent to offset the losses.
He said: “Based on our planning assumption we estimate RFU revenue losses over the next 18 months to be approximately £45-£50 million and have a firm plan in place to mitigate this.
“The RFU executive team will be taking a cut in remuneration in excess of 25 per cent. In addition, combined board fees will be reduced by 75 per cent.”
If England’s autumn internationals do not go ahead, the losses could potentially end up being more.
The RFU chief added: “The RFU’s biggest asset is also a major cost and the closure of Twickenham has a significant impact on the revenues we can generate to reinvest into the game. In that sense we are like every other club in the union. When we do not stage matches and events we do not generate revenue.”
The body is also hoping head coach Eddie Jones, who is believed to be the highest-paid member of the RFU with earnings of £750,000 a year, and his coaching staff also agree to take wage reductions.
According to Sweeney, the RFU had budgeted for a loss this year after the 2019 World Cup and with just two home matches in the Six Nations.
Four Six Nations have been postponed in total because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The projected loss is likely to set the governing body back as it had returned to the black for the 2018-19 financial year, posting an operating profit of £14.9 million as a result of extra matches at Twickenham, and securing rises in broadcasting and sponsorship income.
In comparison, the organisation made a loss of £24.4 million in 2017-18, when it was forced to make 54 staff redundant.