Welsh Rugby Union 2018 financial review
CARDIFF, WALES - APRIL 28: A Dragons balloon flies in the stadium during the Guinness PRO14 Round 21 Judgement Day VI match between Cardiff Blues and Ospreys at Principality Stadium at Principality Stadium on April 28, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Kevin Barnes - CameraSport via Getty Images)

The end of another financial year means the release of the latest WRU annual report. It can be a complicated set of figures, data and block text so, Robert Rees breaks it down into all ‘you need to know’ about the Welsh Rugby Union books.

Gethin to stand down after 12 years

Before getting down to the figures the Directors notes have revealed that President Dennis Gethin is to step down at the end of next year, following what will be 13 years on the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) board.

Dennis has fore-fronted a strong campaign during his tenure on the board and feels; with the board convening on re-elections, then it is time for him to step aside. Stepping down to ensure there is a fresh approach for the future years.

Financial outlook positive for years ahead

The WRU accounts reveal once again turnover has increased to £97m (up from £74.9m) with £51.2m of that being surplus after costs. As a result, re-investment into the game increases to £42.8m. An increase of over £6m – more on where this goes later.

A profit, despite an increase of stadium costs, £700,000 of which came from their takeover of Rodney Parade and the former-Gwent Dragons organisation.

With those earnings, Debt has also decreased to £6.1m from £9.4m.

This will all come as good news, with the 2019 reports forecasting a year of lower income due to several factors including;

  • Anthony Joshua signing a two year deal with Wembley stadium.
  • A narrow window for concerts due to Rugby World Cup warm-up matches.
  • No New Zealand test in the autumn.

Strong performances on the field leading to a second place finish in the Six Nations meant that attendances were up for games.

Team Wales going strong

On average home gates were increased by 6,000 to 69,000. This is with an extra home game than in 2017. This, along with an increase in ticket costs to £46 (£45 in 2017) has helped to raise matchday income.

It’s also been noted that it’s pleasing to see so much new and fresh talent being introduced to the international game over the past year. Then there is the Principality Premiership, which is still the ‘top tier’ for players in the regions.

It’s not just the top tier of the game that is going well. The new WRU-Urdd partnership has allowed over 12,000 young people annually to participate in school-based tag, sevens or beach rugby.

The WRU annual report also shows that 19,000 girls participated in school, college or university rugby. An impressive and growing figure with women’s leagues and girls clusters becoming more popular and regular with each passing year.

93% of all fixtures were completed across all the leagues in Wales. An incredible amount considering the difficulties some clubs and schools have had in raising sides.

Welsh rugby investment – the financial ‘breakdown’

  • Total investment in ”Welsh rugby” has increased to £42.8m (£36.6m, 2017)
  • Broken down, there was £20.5m allocated to the regional game. This doesn’t include the Dragons. A further £2.6m has been spent on National Dual Contracts (NDC’s)
  • The Principality Premiership clubs received a core lump sum of £1.7m and the community game was given £4.5m. Up £100,000 on 2017
  • The figure invested into artificial pitches to date has increased to £2m.

Staff increase as WRU director gets paid more than Prime minister

The salary for the Prime Minister of Wales is around £150,000. The highest paid director at the WRU – unnamed – was paid £346,000.

This comes with a rise in wages, due to an increased total of 101 staff; mainly due to the takeover of the Dragons. That resulted in 80 contracts being added to the bill. This has seen costs rise to £16.8m (£10.7m, 2017).

The wage costs do not include NDC’s, matchday stewards or non-executive directors.

Positive outlook on WRU annual report

Despite some additional costs being included – the operational costs associated with the Dragons Rugby organization included – the ability to forecast these has allowed the WRU to ensure it’s finances are still well delivered.

Additional funding into the game has helped increase participation, increase productivity and therefore increase the ability to compete on all levels of the game. Provided the proverbial ‘balloon’ does not burst (see main picture) then the outlook of the WRU annual report looks positive.

The year ahead leading into the 2019 World Cup promises to be an exciting one on the rugby field. Concern still exists, with the board preparing for a hit in stadium income, that could see more money spent than is earned.

But by utilizing their surplus cash to keep the game flowing, the WRU in 2018/19 may put itself into a good position, to reap the benefits of a Rugby World Cup, increased participation and earnings from broadcast rights.

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images

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