Premiership Rugby clubs post losses of almost £25m for 2022-23 season

Premiership Rugby clubs post losses of almost £25m for 2022-23 season
Premiership Rugby clubs post losses of almost £25m for 2022-23 season

Nine of 10 Gallagher Premiership clubs have posted financial losses which total almost £25 million for the 2022-23 season.

Newcastle Falcons have yet to publicly post their results for the last financial year but of the data available, nine clubs cumulatively made a loss of around £23.5 million.

Saracens posted the biggest loss at £5,295,310, with the club’s turnover of £23,206,354 falling well short of their £28,559,147 budget.

Bristol Bears, backed by the billionaire Steve Lansdown, finished with a total loss of £4,554,814. Harlequins posted the highest turnover, £26,813,85, but had the largest budget at £30,392,791, resulting in a loss of £3,648.893.

Gloucester produced the best results due to having a budget of £18,291,675, which was marginally higher than the club’s turnover of £18,162,660, making an eventual loss of £393,079. Two other clubs produced losses which were below the half a million figure, with Sale making a £439,294 loss and Northampton a £467,836 loss.

Sale notably had the lowest turnover, £11,735,339, but also the lowest budget of £16,496,292. They were also one of only two clubs, along with fellow Premiership finalists Saracens, to produce a positive net financing costs figure of £258,953.

The results also disclose the number of people employed by each club, with Exeter recording the highest figure of 354 of which 156 were coaches and players. Bristol employed the fewest number of people (155) and number of players and staff (87).

Exeter’s financial results, with a loss of £3,994,469, included the hotel built on site at Sandy Park, which made a loss of £2m over the course of the financial year. The hotel has since been sold off, with Exeter’s chairman and chief executive, Tony Rowe, buying an undisclosed stake in the Sandy Park Hotel back in December 2022 to help pay off the club’s Covid-19 loans.

Exeter said at the time: “The fee paid for the shares by Mr Rowe not only provides an injection of capital to keep cashflow going, but will also help service substantial debts accrued by Exeter Rugby Club due to the impact of the Covid pandemic in 2020. Directors will use “their best endeavours” to retain “at least” 26 per cent shareholding in the hotel company.”

Premiership Rugby has been contacted for comment.

Analysis: Rugby still feeling Covid after effects

Perhaps the main factor to consider when analysing the latest accounts for the nine Premiership clubs, with Newcastle still to come, is that teams across the league are still feeling the financial effects of the pandemic, hit hard by that loss of matchday revenue.

Seeing that amount of red on a spreadsheet naturally leads to concern but among the numbers there are some positives, such as Northampton posting a record turnover of nearly £22 million, up by a million on the previous year. Even a club in as strong a position as Northampton is still going to be confronted with costs, with their cash balance dropping due to the construction of the club’s new High Performance Centre.

The Premiership is still reeling from the loss of Worcester Warriors, Wasps and London Irish during the previous season and, predominantly, clubs appear to be cautious. Take Sale’s budget, around £16.5 million, being almost half of that of Harlequins (£30.4 million).

The same long-term concerns remain. Certain clubs relying on the large investment of owners with deep pockets, a TV deal which lags far behind the money paid for the rights to the Top 14 in France, the fact that clubs with excellent attendance figures and large capacities – Leicester, Northampton, Gloucester – are occasionally falling short of making a profit. Not forgetting that the salary cap ceiling is set to rise next season from £5 million to £6.4 million – the timing of which seems highly questionable – or how the Covid-19 loans from the government will be repaid.

These are all existing issues which require long-term solutions but right now, the aim across the Premiership appears to be to create stability.

At the same time, sources close to the league are optimistic about an increase in supporter numbers this season at matches, with gate numbers continuing to climb and up by around five per cent on the previous season. The more people back in grounds, the more revenue. Right now, every extra pound feels important.

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