Challenge Cup champions Bristol Bears have released their latest set of annual accounts, showing a pre-tax loss of £3.181million for the year to the end of May 2020, a huge difference from the operating profit of £1.798m posted in 2019.

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The 33-page document described Bristol as a ‘going concern’ but stated that sufficient funds for the next twelve months and beyond were available thanks to the investment of owner Steve Lansdown and his Pula Sport Limited company.

Outlining a set of accounts that were only partially impacted on by the pandemic, Bristol chairman Chris Booy wrote: “As we entered 2020, in common with all other businesses across the world, we were hit by the severe trading shock arriving via the Covid-19 pandemic which still persists.

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“The impact of all this on the hospitality and sport industry is now well documented. Activity in virtually all areas was heavily impacted with a market shutdown. The month of March saw a lockdown in the UK and the timescale for any meaningful relaxation of these rules for the stadium and return to normality is unknown.

“Turnover was adversely affected in the final quarter of trading between March and May. Overall, turnover in the financial period reached £10,987m (2019 – £9.392m) and recorded operating (pre-tax) losses of £3.181m (2019 – operating profit of £1.798m).

“Turnover included advanced income from Premier Rugby Limited in respect of future broadcasting income, which is being released over four years, having been received in full in the year to May 31, 2019. The taxation charge, and therefore net loss for the year, includes he impact of a reversal of group loss relief tax income from 2019 where those reliefs were not subsequently required.

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“These operating losses have increased the net liabilities as at May 31, 2020, to £22.97m (2019 – £18.86m). The value of the investment in the PRL remains at £13.865m. Deferred income includes £9.079m (2019 – £12.096m) of broadcasting income from PRL, which is being released to the profit and loss account over four years.

“The extent of the operational and financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the UK economy, professional rugby in England and Bristol Bears is, as yet, unknown given the ongoing developments in infection rates and the Government response. The directors recognise that there remains significant operational and financial uncertainty.”

Despite the concerns raised by pandemic, Bristol later stated in their accounts that there were no worries for their immediate future. “The directors are confident that, taking into account the commitment by Pula Sport Limited, the company and group will have sufficient working capital until the end of the 2020/21 season and beyond for the foreseeable future, being not less than twelve months from the date of approval of these financial statements.”

Click here to read the full report.

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