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SBD Global/May 31, 2013/Finance

Australian Rugby Union Counts On Lions' Tour To Reverse Organization's Losses

Australian rugby officials "will be rolling out the welcome mat for the British and Irish Lions and their 40,000 fans next week as they bank on the team’s first visit since 2001 to reverse two years of losses," according Dan Baynes of BLOOMBERG. The Australian Rugby Union said that "it expects the Lions’ nine-match trip, which is set to attract total attendance of about 400,000, to help boost revenue" in '13 by about 46% to A$140M ($135M) and enable it to post a profit. ARU CEO Bill Pulver said, "It is a phenomenal tour that is going to help us enormously. I’m hoping we’ll get to at least a A$10 million cash balance within the ARU, which is not a particularly positive one given the size of the business, but it’s a very strong result on the back of basically A$20 million of losses in the last two years." The "windfall generated by hosting the Lions only comes around every 12 years as the combined team of players from the U.K. and Ireland convenes on a quadrennial basis to play matches in either Australia, New Zealand or South Africa." This trip "marks 125 years since a rugby team representing the U.K. and Ireland first toured the Southern Hemisphere." Costing about £14M ($21M), it "will also be the most expensive," according to Lions CEO John Feehan. Feehan said, "If I had the same amount of revenue now as I did when we came down 12 years ago, I wouldn’t even cover 25 or 30 percent of the cost. Unfortunately Australia’s quite an expensive place now" (BLOOMBERG, 5/30).
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