Welsh region Scarlets have reportedly managed to achieve the nearly nigh impossible in European club rugby – turning a profit for a season.
Making ends meet remains a constant problem for professional rugby beneath Test level. English and French clubs are reliant on the generosity of benefactors, while the likes of Irish, Welsh and Scotland clubs rely on funding through their national unions to help pay the bills.
The Tony Rowe-run Exeter are reputedly the only English club consistently trading in the black, the Devon-based club recording a pre-tax profit in June 2019 of just under £1.6million, up from £660,000 the previous year.
With income listed at £21.7m, a six per cent rise on 2018’s £20.5m figure, they have now embarked on developing a new hotel and conference centre facility at Sandy Park, while also formulating plans to increase capacity to 22,000.
Scarlets’ arrival into the black is by no means comparable, but the fact that they have managed to turn a profit is still significant in a sport that struggles to pay its way.
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According to the BBC, the Welsh region’s annual accounts to June 2019 posted a profit of £166,773 while directors wrote off £4,601,879 in loans. Scarlets had made a loss of £643,035 the previous year.
The club’s turnover reportedly increased from £11,868,110 to £14,423,362, with £1,725,021 coming from the Welsh Rugby Union via a funding agreement involving the three other Welsh regions, Ospreys, Cardiff and the Dragons.
Managing director Mick Hogan isn’t blaming @Saracens for the trauma @FalconsRugby are enduring in the Championship… but he tells @heagneyl it still leaves a sour taste belatedly finding out a @premrugby rival cheated last seasonhttps://t.co/CfYiZmovYZ
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 25, 2020
Claiming that his region were one of “only two clubs to have reported a profit for the season”, Scarlets chairman Nigel Short said: ”It shows the value of having good operational and commercial management in place.
“We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to our funding directors, who have supported Scarlets over the years and during this financial year written off the remainder of their long-term loans and debt.”
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