IRFU: Bleak future for rugby in Ireland
SPOTLIGHT: The IRFU has outlined a bleak forecast for the organisation if there isn’t a meaningful return of fans to the Aviva Stadium for major Test matches.
The union pointed out that despite government loans, they face multi-million euros debts due to the pandemic, most of which was wrapped up in employee payments.
IRFU CEO Philip Browne stated that: “As in many industries, regrettably we have had job losses and pay cuts across the organisation for the last 12 months while we also eliminated all non-critical overheads.”
“Our two largest income-generating home games every two years against England and France were held behind closed doors with a loss of match income of over €16m. These are the games that keep Irish Rugby going.”
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“We have made encouraging progress in recent weeks with the return of increasing numbers of supporters to various sporting and cultural events, which leaves us hopeful that fans may return in meaningful numbers to our grounds in Autumn. I would like to thank the government, in particular Minister Chambers and his department officials for their commitment to facilitating the safe progressive return of fans to stadia.
“As the only sporting organisation fully supporting a professional game, we are dependent on the national and provincial teams’ ability to generate revenues which have been decimated by the impact of COVID restrictions since March 2020.”
“Without additional government funding in 2021, and a return of fans to our stadia in meaningful numbers later this year, the IRFU would once again have to review all activities and swiftly implement another round of very unpalatable cost reductions. Further cuts, if necessary, would have a significant impact on the organisation and all activities from grassroots to pro game pathways.”
Browne said that the IRFU had to implement a 10 per cent permanent cost base reduction, approved by the Union in March of this year and with “that came some difficult decisions, despite a critically important grant of €18m from government in respect of loss of revenues in 2020.”
Patrick Kennedy, Honorary Treasurer, said that rugby is “far from out of the woods”.