The RFU has released details of a £7m package to help community clubs in England through the coronavirus pandemic.
After a virtual meeting of the RFU board agreed to directly fund a support package, Bill Sweeney, CEO, RFU, announced in a statement on the governing body’s website a range of measures to help community clubs, as well as giving an update on the financial impact the pandemic would have on the union.
Among the measures taken for clubs include an early release of £800,000 which is due to clubs from the RFU’s ticketing fund as well as an early release of final funding payments to constituent bodies, which will allow them to provide ‘immediate support grants’ to fund clubs most in need.
The RFU has also suspended quarterly loan repayments for clubs with outstanding loans due in April and created a £5m support loans programme, offering loans of between £2k and £10k to clubs, with deferred re-payments for six months. Those loans will then be repayable over three years.
In his statement, Sweeney also detailed the financial impact the pandemic would have on the RFU’s overall finances, which had already been expected to see a loss due to the Rugby World Cup 2019 followed by a Six Nations campaign in which England hosted only two home games.
Sweeney said: “The RFU had budgeted for a loss-making year within a four year cycle due to the costs of the 2019 RWC campaign and hosting only two home Six Nations games. The loss will now be considerably more as we face challenges similar to businesses across the country.
“Based on our planning assumption we estimate RFU revenue losses over the next 18 months to be approximately £45-£50 million and have a firm plan in place to mitigate this. The RFU Executive Team will be taking a cut in remuneration in excess of 25%. In addition, combined Board fees will be reduced by 75%.
In his statement, the RFU’s CEO also said that the union would offer its facilities to support the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are discussing with the government and the NHS the role the RFU and Twickenham Stadium can play in providing volunteers as well as support for the NHS including accommodation, parking and meal provisioning,” he said.
“I am confident that rugby will play a big role in energising communities across England after this difficult period. In the meantime, we are working hard with the wider rugby community to take the necessary measures to safeguard a financially resilient Union so that we can.”