MYSTERY surrounds the status of the Scottish Rugby Union’s accounts after the governing body informed member clubs this [Friday] evening that the financial statements will not be made available ahead of AGM2 on 26th November.
The communication stated that “additional work needs to be done before the accounts are approved”, which is bound to spark concern given that the 2019-20 financial year ended on 31st May, meaning that Murrayfield has had 160 days to get their house in order.
The Welsh Rugby Union produced their accounts on 14th October, which was 106 days after their year-end on 30th June 2020. The RFU [England] share that 30th June year-end and produced their accounts on 29th October, which means there was a 121 day lag. And the Irish Rugby Football Union, who have changed their accounting date from 30th April to 31st July in order to align their financial year with their playing season and accommodate any summer tour, produced their accounts on 23rd October, which was 84 days after their accounting period ended.
The Union’s bye-laws require that the financial statements be laid before an Annual General Meeting “within four calendar months after the Scottish Rugby Union plc’s financial year end but in any event by no later than 31 August in the calendar year, as the Scottish Rugby Board may determine”.
That deadline was pushed back by the SRU when it was decided to hold this year’s AGM in two parts so that the business of a electing and ratifying office-holders could be completed in a timely manner by video conference, while the issues which need discussed such as the two motions being proposed by clubs and the accounts could be dealt with at a point when all delegates were able to meet in the same room.
However, with it becoming apparent that AGM2 could not happen in person before the New Year, it was decided to push ahead by video conference, with the accounts expected in good time before the day of the meeting.
It has now been proposed that a “financial presentation” be given to member clubs instead, before the meeting is adjourned and reconvened when a fuller set of accounts become available in December. The SRU are not in the practice of releasing the full accounts until they have to lodge them at Companies House, which is usually the end of February, but isn’t until 31st May this year because all companies have been given a three month extension to their filing deadline.
The club communication said:
“Following a presentation to the Scottish Rugby Council, the President and the Chairman of Scottish Rugby will be issuing documentation in the course of next week relating to Stage 2 of the 2020 AGM and the Special General Meeting scheduled for 26 November 2020.
The current pandemic has created circumstances where additional work needs to be done before the accounts are approved, providing an additional level of assurance for the organisation and stakeholders that the impact of the pandemic on the organisation has been fully examined and can be explained to members. That work is taking longer than anticipated.
“Ensuring that members are informed about the effect of the pandemic on the organisation and our sport more generally, and in particular, have sufficient time to consider the financial statements and ask questions about them, is a priority for the Council and Board.
“It is therefore proposed that a financial presentation will be given to members at Stage 2 of the AGM, with more detailed financial information following shortly thereafter.
“Following discussion, and with the support of the Scottish Rugby Council, Stage 2 of the resumed AGM on 26 November will therefore focus on club and domestic rugby issues, including the motions submitted by clubs, presentation of the preliminary results for the 2019/20 financial year, and commentary on the organisation’s response to the pandemic and its impact on the current 2020/21 year. The Annual General Meeting will then be adjourned, to enable the Special General Meeting to be held in respect of Biggar RFC’s motion.
“The formal laying of financial statements will take place later in December, allowing stakeholders adequate time in advance to study the accounts and submit questions ahead of that resumed meeting.
“The Council and Board are grateful for members’ continued patience and understanding during these unprecedented times.”