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How Fragile is Professional Rugby?

By BL
March 27 2020

We have noted how, in recent weeks the actions taken to fight the coronavirus have stepped up, and the extent to which they affect professional sport in this country. At this moment there is no professional rugby union in the UK and no indication of how long this will apply.

Those who count themselves as supporters of the game have more concern than the average member of the public and the chief worry now is what will rugby look like when, and if, it returns to our grounds and stadia? Recent activity at the top level of the domestic game in England has hardly encouraged the paying public to believe that things will return to normal. Several clubs have announced, almost immediately after the decision to stop playing, that they are implementing 25% wage cuts on their staff taking into account the loss of income from paying spectators. This decision, although appearing sensible in the circumstances, must raise concerns about the long-term viability of some clubs. Latest figures show only one club had been operating on a profit with the rest contributing various amounts to a total debt of £35m. They have relatively recently received £13m each as their share of the CVC windfall but this seems to have had little bearing on financial status. Perhaps its already been spent on clearing debts accumulated before CVC arrived on their “white charger”!

We have heard about which financial models are to be upheld and that you cannot rely on “sugar daddies” to dig deeper into their pockets as problems potentially mount. Last week I read an article by Owen Slot, Chief Rugby Correspondent of The Times in which he said the game was paying its top level domestic players too much and that in order to have any affect this has to be reversed and the players have to play less games. He did not blame the players in seeking the maximum reward for their efforts but rather those agreeing to meet to demands which are too high for sustaining the game going forward. Look at the quoted figure for Owen Farrell, whose 25% reduction will deprive him of £16k per month!

There is also the question of where the Championship sits in this, and the future as we know too well, is considerably less rosy. Do we look at a semi-professional second tier or do we consider linking them with the Premiership in some way and actually begin to realise the originally stated aim of a full time professional league supplying home grown talent to the premiership and ultimately, the national team?

The powers that be in Premiership Rugby and the RFU have, by dint of circumstance, a little time to get together and look at the future structure of the elite level of the sport that we love.

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How Fragile is Professional Rugby?
Discussion started by TykesRugby.co.uk (IP Logged), 27/03/2020 09:55
TykesRugby.co.uk
TykesRugby.co.uk
27/03/2020 09:55
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Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2020:05:07:08:13:01 by Wildwillie .

Carnegiette2
Carnegiette2
27/03/2020 13:23
Very to answer your question!

I think the model we attempted this season will become more prevalent in the Championshipmto be honest.

Interested to knownwhat the Prem clubs have done with their CVC dosh.......

MESSAGES->author
almostatyke
27/03/2020 19:15
I'm sure CVC wish they had kept their dosh in their pocket.

Whole new world will open up, eventually. Hopefully for the better, but old debts and investments will get lost in the mix for sure.

leeds exile
leeds exile
28/03/2020 09:34
On the BBC Rugby podcast recently it was suggested that many Premiership clubs had used the CVC money unwisely in paying off debts and increasing salaries to attract players. I do not think government money should be used to bail out failing businesses .



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2020:03:28:15:39:32 by leeds exile.

Rawdon ranter
Rawdon ranter
30/03/2020 20:06
Anyone seen an article in Saturday’s Guardian penned by Paul Rees on how the abrupt cessation of the season has jeopardised the finances of Coventry RFC.
Finding a £750k gap in their revenue because of the curtailed season they have been fortunate that their Benefactor ,Jon Sharp, has come forward to help them.
I suspect that a good few boardrooms of Championship teams will be having similar conversations.

MESSAGES->author
almostatyke
30/03/2020 20:31
Didn't see the article but it rings true. The money involved in keeping a RU club afloat is peanuts compared to Football. As an example Nigel Wray of Saracens did not hesitate when an additional £5 million plus was suddenly required to pay a fine. That would have kept a Championship Club going for at least 2 years.
So when necessary benefactors (provided you have one) just dig a little bit deeper into their pocket money allowance to keep the club going.
This is part of the reason why the cash-strapped rfu reduced the Championship funding IMHO.

Grybz
Grybz
30/03/2020 21:48
I suppose the answer to the question is “very”, but I suspect professional rugby is not going to come out of the current situation any differently from any other form of business. I’m sure a lot of the rich benefactors that are bankrolling some of the clubs are going to have a stark choice between whether to keep ploughing money into the rugby clubs they are propping up or their day to day businesses, I would suspect it will be the latter in most cases.
The real worry was that the professional model in this country was looking a bit dodgy before the sport had the shutdown, the irony may just be that going semi-professional this season may just have worked in our favour in a bizarre kind of way. Can you imagine what would have happened if all this had happened last season? In some respects we have already had the pain that some of the other clubs may be about to go through. Not only may some of them find the purse strings being drawn tighter, but they will be having their central funding from the RFU cut too.
Worrying times for rugby, but worrying times for a lot of us.
Hope you are all staying well though

MESSAGES->author
almostatyke
30/03/2020 22:06
Under the current model, all clubs need a Sugar Daddy who is retired, with a fortune already safely in the bank.

We tried but a benefactor still developing his business, despite best intentions, didn't work.

Carnegiette2
Carnegiette2
31/03/2020 02:10
Quote:
Grybz
The real worry was that the professional model in this country was looking a bit dodgy before the sport had the shutdown, the irony may just be that going semi-professional this season may just have worked in our favour in a bizarre kind of way. Can you imagine what would have happened if all this had happened last season? In some respects we have already had the pain that some of the other clubs may be about to go through. Not only may some of them find the purse strings being drawn tighter, but they will be having their central funding from the RFU cut too.
Worrying times for rugby, but worrying times for a lot of us.
Hope you are all staying well though

I have also had this thought about our model..... others will be following this of that I am sure

leeds_shark
WPL
31/03/2020 07:58
I think we are seeing others following our model now, look at the Nottingham announcement, Scottish as well.

It feels as though we are moving towards where we were several years ago, around the time Otley were in the championship (or whatever it was called then). There was 3 distinct divisions within the division, the professional teams, the part timers and the somewhere inbetween. I think this time it will be simpler where it's the people with a big money backer and the rest.

I do wonder when rugby resumes how similar it will look to it is now

MESSAGES->author
Beeston Lion
02/04/2020 09:54
RugbyPass.com yesterday published an article in which the author (Sam Roberts) surmised that 3 or maybe 4 Premiership clubs are in danger of going out of business in the next few months. He highlights problems caused by paying wages which are not viable and continue to rise without any apparent control. The introduction of the marquee signing rule has not helped and is even seen to exacerbate the problem.

leeds_shark
WPL
02/04/2020 10:13
I wonder what the deal is with TV money at the moment, if no games are going on are clubs getting paid? If not you can see why a few might struggle without cash rich owners...

MESSAGES->author
Wildwillie
06/04/2020 17:25
The curtailed season has deprived lots of clubs of revenue. Will the same clubs be in a position to start a new season whenever that may be. I cannot see pre-season starting in the next 8 weeks.

(Sm124)

leeds exile
leeds exile
22/04/2020 16:10
Some reality is gradually seeping into the consciousness of our sporting bodies at last. Today the National Football league have ended their seasons. Issues about promotion and relegation to be decided later. It is time for Premiership rugby to draw a veil under their season too. It is hardly as if anyone is on tenterhooks as to the outcome. Saracens are relegated and the position at the top really does not matter in the grand scheme.

leeds_shark
WPL
22/04/2020 16:33
Trouble is Leeds Exile (and I agree with you 100% BTW!) is that money talks, its interesting that wherever money is prevalent at the top end of sport they are reluctant to end things.

I wonder how many top flight clubs could afford a reduction in TV/CVC money, I wonder how many football clubs could do the same. Whilst I have a degree of sympathy as it should be guaranteed money it does demonstrate how fragile top flight sport is.

MESSAGES->author
Wildwillie
23/04/2020 07:54
As the lockdown drags on, with no serious suggestion of easing the restrictions, more clubs will be feeling the financial squeeze. How many professional clubs will, I wonder, fold or have to revert to being amateur?

leeds_shark
WPL
23/04/2020 08:00
based on the news last night from Chris Whitty that suggests social distancing may continue until the end of the year - I wonder when we will actually get back to rugby? This surely has massive financial implications for all concerned as we can't say when rugby will be back for the paying public.

Health comes first for certain, but I do wonder what our sport will look like at the end of this...

MESSAGES->author
Wildwillie
23/04/2020 08:05
Quote:
WPL
Health comes first for certain, but I do wonder what our sport will look like at the end of this...

Like it did 30 years ago perhaps?

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