Coronavirus hits RFU hard, set to lose £50m

The finals were supposed to be held in Marseille but were moved from the French city due to COVID-19 restrictions. David Rogers -- RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) have announced that they expect to make a £50 million loss over the next 18 months in part due to the coronavirus.

The RFU have provided support for community clubs in England with a relief package worth £7m as domestic rugby continues to feel the negative financial impact caused by the pandemic.

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"The RFU had budgeted for a loss making year within a four year cycle due to the costs of the 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign and hosting only two home Six Nations games," chief executive Bill Sweeney said in a statement.

"The loss will now be considerably more as we face challenges similar to businesses across the country.

"The RFU's biggest asset is also a major cost and the closure of Twickenham Stadium has a significant impact on the revenues we can generate to re-invest back into the game. In that sense we are like every other club in the Union, when we do not stage matches and events we do not generate revenue.

"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."

A number of Gallagher Premiership rugby clubs have told their players they will be taking a 25% pay cut due to the postponement of professional rugby in the coronavirus outbreak. Sweeney has announced that he and other board members will also take a similarly significant pay cut.

"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%," he added.

Sweeney also said that an update over 2019-20 Premiership season is set to be announced in mid-April. Last week, the RFU cancelled the remainder of the domestic rugby season in all league below England's top-flight.