RFU to provide clubs with rescue package during coronavirus outbreak despite million-pound losses expected

Verulamians and St Albans are two clubs who could benefit from the RFU's coronavirus rescue package.

Verulamians and St Albans are two clubs who could benefit from the RFU's coronavirus rescue package. Picture: KARYN HADDON - Credit: Archant

The Rugby Football Union has agreed to support clubs during the coronavirus outbreak with a multi-million pound package – despite expected losses coming in at nearly £50m.

In total £7m will be made available as all grassroots clubs face an uncertain future with facilities closed and no income coming in.

The statement from Bill Sweeney, CEO of the RFU promised further details in the coming weeks although all of this comes with the backdrop of huge losses after England’s 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign.

Sweeney said: “To support clubs we are today announcing that the RFU will be providing a £7m relief package for community clubs. The package includes monies ring fenced and diverted for the community game as well as additional funding.

“We will be providing more details on this financial package in the coming week. We will also be issuing regular club recovery updates with practical advice on how government grants can be accessed as well as other business management advice.

“We welcome government interventions which will provide business rate holidays and grants for clubs.

“The RFU had budgeted for a loss-making year within a four-year cycle due to the costs of the 2019 RWC campaign and hosting only two home Six Nations games.

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

“Based on our planning assumption we estimate 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 and in addition combined board fees will be reduced by 75 per cent.”

Last week they announced the ending of the current season and Sweeney also said a decision on what happens with regards to relegation ,promotion and all other matters is moving closer.

He said: “We will ensure a fair and balanced outcome for the game and are now committed to update on this by the middle of April.

“No one can predict every possible outcome of the COVID-19 outbreak particularly with regard to the duration of this crisis and we are managing in the unknown.

“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.

“I am confident that rugby will play a big role in energising communities across England after this difficult period.

“In the meantime, we are working hard with the wider rugby community to take the necessary measures to safeguard a financially resilient Union so that we can.”