The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2019/20.
The report highlights the impact of Covid-19 in the final quarter of the year in what had otherwise been a successful initial nine months.
In the report, RFU states that 2019/20 was budgeted to be a loss-making year within a regular four-year cycle, due to the costs of the Rugby World Cup campaign and only hosting two home Six Nations games.
Despite these factors, there was an investment in the game of £94.7m (£100.5m in 2018/19). Revenues were 22% lower year-on-year at £167m (compared to £213.2m in the prior year). As a result, profit before rugby investment decreased 27% year-on-year to £83.9m.
Prior to Covid-19 hitting, RFU revenues were running slightly ahead of budget, but the loss of all activity in the last quarter of the year means that the RFU finished the year with revenues £23m behind budget, mostly driven by lost broadcast, ticketing, hospitality and conferences and events revenues.
Despite lost revenues, the operating loss for the year was slightly better than budget - £10.8m compared to a budgeted loss of £11.5m.
“There will be significant challenges in the immediate and long-term future which the Board and Executive team, in partnership with the RFU Council, will work hard to meet.”
Bill Sweeney, RFU CEO said: “The long-term financial challenges of coronavirus are significant for the entire economy. The RFU relies on revenue from matches and events at Twickenham Stadium and re-invests 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. 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%..."