Rugby Australia to slash jobs in wake of $9.4 million loss
Rugby Australia's alarming financial position has been laid bare at their annual general meeting on Monday, with job losses to come after the organisation lost $9.4 million and failed to provide audited accounts due to the coronavirus crisis.
RA conceded there is "uncertainty surrounding the business into 2020 and beyond" as lost games and live gate-takings threaten the survival of the code.
The multimillion-dollar payout to Israel Folau and unpredictability of the coronavirus restrictions - set to continue for up to six months and potentially cancel Super Rugby and Test matches this year - means RA can't give members a clear picture of their full losses for the remainder of 2020.
"One of the implications for Rugby Australia as a result of the pandemic was that it was not able to present a full set of audited financial accounts at the meeting, due to the uncertainty surrounding the business into 2020 and beyond while Government restrictions remain in place preventing the delivery of rugby content to satisfy the needs of fans, members, broadcasters and corporate partners," an RA statement said.
"While an update on Rugby Australia's finances was provided to members at the meeting, the company's Annual Report will not be issued until audited accounts can be delivered.
"As expected, in a Rugby World Cup year with reductions in broadcast and match day revenue from fewer domestic Test matches, Rugby AU operated at a loss in 2019.
"All revenue targets were met, however Rugby AU's operating expenditure increased by $6.6 million in 2019 across Community Rugby (increased grants), High Performance (player payments), Marketing and Corporate expenses (including legal costs and the settlement of the Israel Folau matter). Rugby AU reported to its Members a provisional $9.4 million operating deficit for 2019 pending final audit."
Chairman Paul McLean foreshadowed job cuts at RA and Super Rugby clubs, while Australia's 192 professional players will be asked to take significant pay cuts on Tuesday during a conference with players' union RUPA.
"With the current coronavirus issue rapidly-evolving and its implications for the sport set to be far-reaching, Rugby AU is required to action significant cuts across the business for the sport to remain financially viable in the short term," the RA statement said.
McLean added: "These are unprecedented and extremely uncertain times for our world, not only our sport with the global pandemic of COVID-19.
"To put it simply, there is no way of knowing what damage this crisis will have on our game, or for how long it will continue to impact us.
"It has forced us to make some extremely difficult decisions, and there will be even harder decisions to come as we continue to navigate the implications of the virus on the game's finances.
"It was important for us today to review the year and reflect on our learnings from 2019, however the uncertainty that we are facing regarding our immediate future naturally led the discussion at the meeting."
Originally published as Rugby Australia to slash jobs in wake of $9.4 million loss