Rugby Football Union estimates £45-50m lost revenue over next 18 months


By Chris Jones

BBC rugby union correspondent

The closure of Twickenham has a “significant impact on revenues”, according to RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney

The Rugby Football Union is braced for lost revenue of up to £50m over the next 18 months as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Chief executive Bill Sweeney says the closure of Twickenham during the pandemic will have a “significant impact on revenues”.

The RFU has also provided a relief package of £7m to help struggling community clubs, mainly through loans.

Sweeney and other executives will also be taking a pay cut of more than 25%.

“The RFU had budgeted for a loss-making year within a four-year cycle due to the costs of the 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign and hosting only two home Six Nations games,” Sweeney said in a statement.

“The loss will now be considerably more as we face challenges similar to businesses across the country.

“The RFU’s biggest asset is also a major cost and the closure of Twickenham Stadium has a significant impact on the revenues we can generate to reinvest back 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. Based on our planning assumption we estimate RFU revenue losses over the next 18 months to be approximately £45-50m 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%. In addition, combined board fees will be reduced by 75%.”

The pay cuts outlined do not apply to head coach Eddie Jones, who is believed to be the highest-paid individual at the organisation.

However, it is understood that the RFU is looking into measures which could involve Jones and members of his coaching staff taking a reduction in salary.

Sweeney’s statement also said an update about completing the 2019-20 season would be made by mid-April.

“We are managing in the unknown,” he said. “We have modelled three potential scenarios and are working on an assumption based on a medium-term impact with a view to a return to rugby in the autumn.

“We will continue to monitor against this assumption and review and revise planning where necessary.”

Sweeney added that the RFU are “discussing with government and the NHS the role the RFU and Twickenham Stadium can play in providing volunteers as well as support for the NHS including accommodation, parking and meal provisioning”.

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