Ongoing discussions between the IRFU and Rugby Players Ireland will increase a degree or two in temperature with news from Twickenham that the English Rugby Football union is to make 139 redundancies.
The RFU is forecasting that it will lose £107 million as a result of the pandemic and the lockdown.
In a letter to ‘the rugby community England Rugby CEO Bill Sweeney has laid out a very challenging future which will also likely add urgency to completing the deal with CVC or finding a new funding stream.
“Our detailed scenario modelling shows there may be a short-term impact of £107m in lost revenues and we also know there will be a much longer-term effect. We are projecting a 4-5 year recovery with cumulative revenue reductions of around 20%.
“We are having to make difficult decisions on what we can continue to invest in as well as what is the right size and shape of our business for the future. To ensure we have a sustainable RFU we have announced to colleagues that it is proposed that the total number of roles across the organisation will reduce by 139.
“This will be a difficult process, but we will be consulting with colleagues in a fair way to completely remodel our business. This will mean we will need to work very differently in future however, the whole organisation will be focussed on our priorities which are:
• Supporting the community game and our member clubs – which are the life blood of our game.
• Maintaining our ability to compete and win in the performance arena.
• Delivering on our purpose of enriching lives, introducing more people and more diversity to rugby union while developing the sport for future generations.
“The consultation process with colleagues will enable them to share their views and ideas on re-shaping the business ahead of any decisions being announced at the end of August.
“We have already made some significant cost savings. We furloughed 60% of our organisation; implemented a three month pay reduction which has been extended for some; introduced pension pauses; and refined business planning and introduced stadium and office running efficiencies to reduce costs.
“Unfortunately, this is not enough to run a sustainable operation and safeguard our future. We need to maintain our organisation for the long term, this is not a short-term cost reduction exercise, the RFU will still stand, but the impact of Covid-19 will continue to affect us for many years to come.
“These are difficult times for us all but despite the adversity, I have been truly heartened by the spirit of rugby – seeing everyone pull together to help their local community and those most in need.”
The point of the longer term implications and a 20 per cent reduction in revenue over 4-5 years is a stark check on optimism that sport will naturally bounce back, and that is even without factoring in the potential of further lockdowns at key times along the journey.