The Rugby Football Union have reported an operating loss for 2019/20 in excess of £10million even before the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been felt. Twickenham’s finances for the financial year show a loss of £10.8m – lower than the £11.5m that was budgeted by the RFU due to the cost of the World Cup campaign and hosting only two Six Nations fixtures.

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However, the figure is for the year until June 30, meaning the financial damage of Covid-19 to date has yet to be fully reflected – although £23m was still lost in gross revenue due to cancelled events from March to June.

Of the games scheduled to be staged at Twickenham, only the non-cap international against the Barbarians was affected by the pandemic during this time.

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Ex-England captain Dylan Hartley co-hosts the last episode of RugbyPass Offload

With all of this autumn’s matches at Twickenham and the entire Six Nations set to be played behind closed doors, the English game’s governing body had forecasted a £138m reduction in revenue and losses of £60m.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney, who has requested a Government bailout in response to the crisis, is now predicting £145m in lost revenues. “The long-term financial challenges of coronavirus are significant for the entire economy,” Sweeney said.

“The RFU relies on revenue from matches and events at Twickenham and reinvests this back into the game. With no rugby and no events, we are looking at a potential short-term impact circa £145m in lost revenues in our ‘mid-case’ scenario.

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“We also know that there will be a much longer-term effect and are projecting a four to five-year recovery, with cumulative revenue reductions of around 20 per cent.”

In a statement accompanying the annual report, the RFU says that it “highlights the impact of Covid-19 in the final quarter of the year in what had otherwise been a successful initial nine months”.

Investment in the game totals £94.7m compared £100.5m for 2018-19 and revenues were 22 per cent lower year-on-year at £167m compared to £213.2m for the previous year. The loss taken to reserves was £26.6m (click here to read the full RFU report).

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