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RFU reports £97million revenue, down from £167m the previous year

By Liam Heagney

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The Rugby Football Union (RFU) annual report was published on Wednesday with reported revenues for the year at £97million, down £70m on the previous year’s £167m, and a profit to reserves of £20.5m, a loss of £27.1m. Revenues in the year were nearly £120m less than pre-Covid forecasts with an underlying loss to reserves of £21.3m (c£30m worse than pre-Covid forecasts).

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An RFU statement explained: “The underlying loss for the year has been offset by an accounting profit created by a reduction in the long-term liability on the balance sheet to debenture holders as a result of a debenture donation programme.  

“The programme asked debenture holders to consider selling their debenture loans back to the RFU at the present-day value and donating the proceeds to the Rugby Football Foundation. There were 5,561 debentures donated by 1,246 holders providing £1.7m in gift aid to re-invest in grassroots rugby while reducing the RFU’s long-term liabilities. This £1.7m is the only short-term cash impact of the project.

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Guess the celebrity Rose | Karen Carney | England Rugby
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Guess the celebrity Rose | Karen Carney | England Rugby

“The report highlights the significant Government support received by the game from the Sports Winter Survival Package with 512 community clubs from all levels of the game (up to National One) receiving £18.2m in grant funding. A further 129 clubs have applied for loan funding of £11.5m to enable them to put in place asset-based projects to drive revenues.

“The RFU received Government support from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (£2.3m) and the Business Rates Relief Scheme (£2.25m) as well as funding to support covid testing for England women’s team and the cost of implementing the club grants scheme (£600k).

“Before the pandemic hit, the cost and investment base of the organisation for the year ended June 30, 2021, was planned to be circa £207m. Costs were reduced by over £100m, some of the cost reduction achieved was driven by costs that vary naturally with revenues. The largest of these were costs of sale £3.6m (compared to £26.5m in the previous year).  

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Difficult decisions were made to further reduce the cost base and 119 valued colleagues were made redundant. In addition, investment was reduced in England Sevens, community participation programmes, as well as mothballing parts of the stadium, including the hotel. Professional rugby investment in the year was £40.3m (£66.4m in the prior year) and rugby development investment was £17.1m (compared to £28.3 in the prior year).”

Speaking on the same day that England became World Rugby’s preferred host candidate for the 2025 World Cup, Chief Executive Officer Bill Sweeney said: “This 150th year of the RFU has been an immensely challenging one for the union and our sport. We have worked harder than ever before to support the professional and community game through the pandemic, with a clearly focused strategic plan to ensure we deliver real benefit and support to the game. As we emerge out of covid, the RFU will continue to take a leadership role in reshaping and improving the game for the benefit of all involved.”

  • Click here to read the latest RFU annual report and accounts

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RFU reports £97million revenue, down from £167m the previous year

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