Rugby Football Union to cut 139 jobs following £107 million loss

The Rugby Football Union, the sport’s governing body in England, says it is being forced to lay off 139 staff following the huge financial hit it has taken during the lockdown.

With domestic fixtures suspended since March, the organisation said it would take years to recover from the loss of an estimated £107 million of revenues – and possibly even more if the bounce-back takes longer rather than sooner.

Offering thoughts for everyone affected by the pandemic, RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said: “As you will be aware the long-term financial challenges are significant for the whole economy.

“We like many rugby clubs rely on revenue from matches and events at Twickenham Stadium and we re-invest this revenue back into the game.

“Our detailed scenario modelling shows there may be a short-term impact of £107 million in lost revenues and we also know there will be a much longer-term effect.

“We are projecting a 4-5 year recovery with cumulative revenue reductions of around 20 per cent.

“We are having to make difficult decisions on what we can continue to invest in as well as what is the right size and shape of our business for the future.

“To ensure we have a sustainable RFU we have announced to colleagues that it is proposed that the total number of roles across the organisation will reduce by 139.

“This will be a difficult process, but we will be consulting with colleagues in a fair way to completely remodel our business.”

Only last week the chief executive of Leicester Tigers revealed that club could suffer a £10 million hit if it can’t get fans back into matches before the end of 2020.

The lost revenue is double the amount Tigers estimated it had lost just one month ago. It came as the club confirmed the Covid-19 crisis had led to five players leaving – Kyle Eastmond, Noel Reid, Manu Tuilagi, Greg Batemen and Telusa Veainu.

A further 31 members of club staff have also been made redundant.

Mr Sweeney said the RFU would continue to focus on supporting players in the community and its member clubs, helping English players and clubs continue to compete and win, and introducing more people and more diversity to rugby union.

He said: “The consultation process with colleagues will enable them to share their views and ideas on re-shaping the business ahead of any decisions being announced at the end of August.

“We have already made some significant cost savings.

“We furloughed 60% of our organisation; implemented a three month pay reduction which has been extended for some; introduced pension pauses; and refined business planning and introduced stadium and office running efficiencies to reduce costs.

“Unfortunately, this is not enough to run a sustainable operation and safeguard our future.

“We need to maintain our organisation for the long term, this is not a short-term cost reduction exercise, the RFU will still stand, but the impact of Covid19 will continue to affect us for many years to come.

“These are difficult times for us all but despite the adversity, I have been truly heartened by the spirit of rugby – seeing everyone pull together to help their local community and those most in need.”

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