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SBD Global/January 29, 2013/Finance

Study Reveals 11 Of 14 Super League Clubs Have Combined Debt Of More Than $94M

Former England rugby coach Tony Smith "has expressed concern at a damning report that claims Super League clubs are on the edge of 'a financial abyss,'" according to the PA. The study, written by Rob Wilson, a sports finance specialist from Sheffield Hallam University, "has revealed that 11 of the 14 top-flight clubs have combined debts of more than" £60M ($94M). The new season "will start on Friday without a main sponsor and in the past six months two clubs, Bradford and Salford, have teetered on the brink of bankruptcy." Wilson's report, which was featured on Monday's BBC Inside Out program, "overshadowed the Super League XVIII launch held at Manchester's Etihad Stadium." Wilson said: "You have three or four teams that are doing very well, three or four teams doing poorly and a group of teams that struggle to wash their face financially. The overall effect is that the league itself will struggle for finance." Leeds Rhinos CEO Gary Hetherington said that the Rhinos "have made a profit in each of the past nine years but concedes that mismanagement has caused problems at other clubs." Hetherington said, "We're becoming heavily dependent on television revenue and also historically on benevolence." He added: "We have a salary cap which should enable clubs to be profitable or at least break even. Given that there is more money coming into the sport than at any other time, it ought to make us very sustainable" (PA, 1/28).
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