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Volume 7 No. 149

Finance

The Rugby Football Union "will slash" overall investment in the sport by up to £13M ($16.6M) after a "grim" financial report confirmed revenue around the English game has fallen for a second consecutive year, according to Tom Morgan of the London TELEGRAPH. The governing body invested a record £107.7M ($138M) in the English game over the past 12 months, but has predicted "growing uncertainty" and "challenging times" ahead. RFU execs, who made 62 redundancies over the summer, declared a loss of £30.9M for the year, but claimed the "eye-watering loss" is offset by a restructuring of a Twickenham hospitality business joint venture with Compass. Overall, the RFU's annual income fell by £12.5M last year as a result of declining TV rights deals and stadium revenue. Investment in the professional and amateur game is "likely to be around" £100M ($128M) next year, and then fall to £95M ($122M) by '20 (TELEGRAPH, 11/26). The IRISH INDEPENDENT reported RFU Chair Andy Cosslett said that after seven years of revenue growth in a "buoyant market," the "situation is changing and market conditions have been getting tougher." Cosslett did not mention Brexit but he did say that the overall financial outlook was "uncertain" and the sports rights market was "tightening." He also suggested that the RFU overpaid when it signed a £220M, eight-year agreement with the professional clubs to compensate them for int'l call-ups. Cosslett: "We have to accept we signed some long-term commitments with the professional game which, while strategically important, now appear costly against updated revenue forecasts" (IRISH INDEPENDENT, 11/26).

'WHO KNOWS?': In London, Jack de Menezes reported outgoing RFU CEO Steve Brown denied that "he is leaving a sinking ship" following his sudden resignation after just 14 months in the job, but accepted that the Professional Game Agreement "could come back to haunt" the int'l game. Brown said, "I guess the first answer to it is, who knows? Did we pay too much or did we not pay too much for the PGA? We paid the right amount at the right time when we were in the middle of a growth scenario where when you looked at what was required in the professional game at that point in time and then if you reflect from two years into it, how bad has it been, what did we get for that money?" (INDEPENDENT, 11/26). Also in London, Gerard Meagher reported Brown said that England players' £25,000 ($32,000) match fees "may take a hit in the future." Brown also admitted that "an overspend on the England squad, largely as a result of a high turnover of players rather than staff, had contributed to the union's financial plight" (GUARDIAN, 11/26).

Photo: SPORTING INTELLIGENCE
Photo: SPORTING INTELLIGENCE
Photo: SPORTING INTELLIGENCE

The latest Global Sports Salary Survey revealed Barcelona is the first sports team in history with average first-team pay in excess of £10M ($12.8M) a year, according to Sean Ingle of the London GUARDIAN. The survey also "shows the extent" to which wages are spiraling across all sports. This season, the Spanish champion will pay its 23-man squad an average of £10.45M ($13.4M) before bonuses, a figure that has risen by a third since '17-18. Much of that is a result of signing Lionel Messi to a new deal that pays him in excess of £50M ($64.1M) a year, although signing Philippe Coutinho, Arthur, Malcom and Arturo Vidal, and handing Gerard Piqué, Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti and Sergio Busquets "lucrative extensions," has also "significantly swollen the payroll." Real Madrid is second in the GSS survey -- which tracks pay for 349 teams across eight sports in 13 countries -- with its first-team players earning an average of £8.1M ($10.4M) a year. The next six spots are filled by NBA teams, with the Oklahoma City Thunder in third (£7.85M/$10.1M) and the Golden State Warriors (£7.82M/$10M) in fourth. ManU (£6.53M/$8.4M) is the highest British club in the survey at 10th, one spot behind Juventus, which "leapt" from 32nd place to ninth after signing Cristiano Ronaldo. Man City (£5.93M/$7.6M) is the next-highest Premier League club, in 20th position, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all in the top 40 (GUARDIAN, 11/25). The BBC reported not only has Barcelona become the first sports club in the world to pay an average of more than £10M a year to first-team players, the Spanish club also broke the £200,000 ($256,200)-per-week barrier for the first time. On average, first-teamers at Camp Nou earn £10,454,259 a year, which translates to an average of £201,043 per week. Despite Barça and Real Madrid's "dominance on the pay scale," the average Premier League yearly salary remains 36% higher than that of La Liga and "almost double" the amount paid to players in Serie A (BBC, 11/26).