Northampton have become the latest Gallagher Premiership club to confirm its players and staff are taking a 25 per cent pay cut from April 1.
English rugby has been in turmoil since last week’s suspension of the Premiership season with nine rounds of fixtures still to be played.
Squads at six of the league’s dozen clubs had agreed to a 25 per cent wage cut before last weekend, Bristol, Gloucester, Leicester, Saracens, Wasps and Worcester all confirming they had taken drastic action to combat the sudden stop of matchday revenues flowing through the game due to the minimum five-week fixtures suspension which is likely to be extended.
Harlequins followed suit on Monday and now Saints have made it an eight-strong band of clubs taking the draconian action of hitting players and coaches where it hurts most – in the pocket.
In an open letter to supporters on Tuesday, Northampton CEO Mark Darbon explained: “These are incredibly challenging times for individuals, communities and businesses. We are all facing a great deal of uncertainty, but now is the time for me to provide an update for our supporters regarding the future of the club.
“The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has come midway through a comprehensive five-year plan for the club. We have been making good progress, both on and off the pitch, but the outbreak is now creating significant stress on our business model, as it is for other clubs in our league and, indeed, for sports and entertainment businesses more broadly.
“In short, we are faced with a significant slowdown in our income. Whilst the clear intention of the league and the clubs remains to get back to playing rugby as soon as possible, if we were to lose our remaining home games and the other major events we are due to stage at Franklin’s Gardens it would have a severe financial impact, despite our relatively strong balance sheet.
“Whilst we are extremely confident we can weather this storm, on the basis of these unique circumstances the club’s board are unanimous that we have to make timely and difficult decisions in order to protect Northampton Saints for the foreseeable future.
“Alongside a number of other financial management measures, the board have therefore taken the decision to reduce salaries for all of the club’s players and staff by 25 per cent, effective from April 1. This reduction will not apply to staff remunerated below a certain salary threshold to ensure they are protected.
“Clearly, this is not a decision that was taken lightly, but it was a necessary adjustment to make to reduce our cost base with immediate effect.
“I consulted with our director of rugby Chris Boyd, our club captain and RPA representative Alex Waller, and several senior members of the playing squad on Friday afternoon before communicating this decision to the rest of the club’s staff.
“I could not be prouder of how the playing group, support staff and commercial team reacted to the news. We have a wonderful environment at Saints and I am incredibly grateful for the superb work our staff are continuing to produce through these challenging times. The decision will be constantly reviewed as circumstances change.
“In the coming days and weeks, the club will continue to support the local community, doing what we can to assist and support those who need our help. As well as trying to put a smile on people’s faces, our social channels will be used to share health and fitness information to help everyone through this difficult period.
“These are extraordinary times but everyone at Saints is relishing the thought of the day in the not-too-distant future when we re-open the gates of Franklin’s Gardens and see our stadium packed to the rafters once again. We need you, our loyal supporters, to stick with us now more than ever.”
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