Per the report, which is using official financial information from Companies House for the 2016/17 season, Wasps boasted the highest turnover for the campaign, raking in £33.4m, although only £16.2m of that came from the sporting side of the business, with the remaining £17.2m coming from alternate sources, such as venue, business and hotel income.
The club’s wage bill of £17m accounted for 51% of their turnover and was the highest in the Premiership that season, contributing to the club making a loss of £3.7m before tax.
Harlequins’ turnover of £20.7m was the second most but again, a high wage bill (£12.6m – second highest in the competition) contributed to a £6.6m loss before tax. The club was heavily reliant on funding by Mosaic Limited, with rugby income accounting for just £6.5m of the £20.7m turnover, that also included a commercial income of £8m and central funding of £6.1m.
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The third highest turnover belonged to Leicester Tigers, who brought in £19.7m. A wage bill of £12m culminated in a £900k loss before tax, although the redevelopment of Welford Road also factored into their expenditure, so the goal of sustainability is not too far from reality for Tigers.
Bath ended up making a loss of £2.6m before tax and leant heavily on owner Bruce Craig, whose loans to the club now fall just shy of £18m. Their turnover stood at £19m, the fourth highest in the competition, whilst their wage bill of £11m was the fifth highest.
Saracens’ financial statements arguably look the most precarious of all, with £47m owed to investors and shareholders and a wage bill of £11.4m meant that even a healthy turnover of £17.8m was not enough to save the club from a pre-tax loss of £2.8m. Like Bath, Saracens’ ownership is willing to forego short-term sustainability in a bid to maximise commercial opportunities and on-field success, hopefully paving the way to long-term sustainability.
One club in perhaps an even more precarious state, given the lack of a benefactor able to subsidise losses, is Worcester Warriors. They made a loss of £8m before tax and their turnover of £10.8m was only the ninth highest in the competition. Furthermore, their wage bill of £11m is the fifth highest in the competition and even exceeds their turnover. They also have £26m in loans from the owner on the books.
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Sale Sharks brought up the rear in the turnover stakes, bringing in just £8.3m for the season, although their wage bill was also the smallest at just £6.5m. This meant that club only ended up making a pre-tax loss of £810k for the season.
Northampton Saints had an encouraging turnover of £16.7m but ended up making a loss for the first time since they became a limited company in 2000, with pre-tax losses of £1.2m. One of the key factors behind the loss was an increase in the wage bill, which stood at £10.7m after investments were made to stop the club’s slide down the table.
Gloucester posted very similar financial results to Northampton, with a loss before tax of £1.2m, too, as well as an identical wage bill of £10.7m. Their turnover was slightly less, at £16m.
A £3m pre-tax loss for Newcastle Falcons was far from ideal. Their turnover (£9.7m) and wage bill (£7.9m) were the 10th highest in the competition. With rising crowd attendances and improved performances on the field, though, Falcons could be looking up in the coming seasons.
The big success story, though, was Exeter Chiefs, who made a profit before tax of £1.1m, thanks to a tightly controlled wage bill of £9.6m and a respectable turnover of £17m. Exeter do have debts of £13m to pay off, but with sensible management, they are currently doing just that.
Unfortunately, there was no financial information on Bristol Bears.
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