WRU CEO pens open letter as regions to lose £100k per game
WRU CEO Steve Phillips has penned an open letter to fans as the sport faces into another bleak Christmas period thanks to Covid-19.
From Boxing Day on, Welsh regions will be forced to play behind closed doors. All URC derby matches in Wales are to be played in front of empty stands as the Welsh government tightens restrictions to slow the spread of Omicron.
Phillips reveals that each region is set to lose roughly £100,000 per game as a result of the decision.
“We need to understand properly the new measures that have been put in place and we need to watch carefully for what may come next. I wish there was more certainty, more structure, more clarity about the way ahead, but the new Omicron variant of the Coronavirus that, for a time, threatened our very existence, has broadsided us once again,” wrote Phlillips. “Both Westminster and the Welsh Government have already put new measures in place to mitigate the spread of Omicron. There may be more to come and, as and when the way ahead becomes clearer, we will, as we have done over the last two years, continue to be agile and adapt.”
“We can take some comfort in the knowledge that we have been here before. That we can chart a course through this next wave of the pandemic and that we can count the same number of clubs out the other side of the current crisis as we boasted at its onset.
“There is a precedent set. As always, we will stick close to Welsh Government advice and guidance.”
He credited Cardiff for their “two incredible performances” in Europe despite their squad being decimated by Covid-19 withdrawals and the chaos around their extended quarantine in South Africa in the URC.
“Each of our four professional sides have been affected in different ways. We are working hard behind the scenes to mitigate the negative effects of the new measures and will continue to do so. Given the popularity of the derby matches and upcoming European matches, we estimate that each lost match will be a net reduction in profit of well over £100,000. There will be a further loss of revenue to suppliers, pay for staff, value for sponsors and pleasure for fans, in addition to the longer term consequences of fans getting out of the habit of going to games.
“Whilst we entirely respect and acknowledge Welsh Government’s stance to protect the nation, it is very disappointing for fans to not be able to attend the planned Christmas derbies between our teams; we must also recognise and thank Welsh Government for the Spectator Sport Survival Fund and other measures which they have announced to mitigate the financial concerns. Of course, it does go wider than that because fans want to be at the grounds and add to their “I was there” Welsh rugby history and remain in the habit of supporting their teams in stadia.
“We will work with our regional colleagues to understand further some of the recent Champions Cup decisions; on the face of it, they seems to lack consistency and, arguably, fairness to some of our teams.
“We have been working with Welsh Government in the background to resolve the refinance of the CLBILS debt; we have made considerable progress in recent months and we are optimistic of concluding that issue by the end of January 2022; we can say more on that at the appropriate time.”
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