Final instalment of AGM scheduled for 22nd December

A second tranche of income from CVC valued at £9.4m has been received

Murrayfield Stadum Image: © Craig Watson -
Murrayfield Stadum Image: © Craig Watson -

THE third and (hopefully) final instalment of Scottish Rugby’s 2020 AGM will take place by video conference at 6pm on Tuesday 22nd December.

The meeting will review the 2019-20 financial statements, which have now been audited and distributed to the clubs as part of the Annual Report [click here to view], plus deal with any other competent business.

Clubs have been asked to submit any questions they have on the financial statements in advance, by 12 noon on Monday 21st December 2020, although there appears to be scope for questions to be asked on the night.

Confusion over Scottish Rugby’s CVC drawings

Scottish Rugby to receive £20 million in grants and loans from Holyrood

John Jeffrey given Chairman role until June 2023

The business achieved a £2.9m surplus for the financial year to 31st May 2020, comprising an operating deficit of £5.3m, offset by “net investment income of £8.4m in relation to the CVC investment in the Pro14”, and net interest cost of £0.2m.

“Prior to the onset of Covid-19, a forecasted Rugby World Cup year loss of around £1.0m was expected, mainly as a result of reduced Autumn Test revenues, and additional Men’s National Team costs, compared with a non-Rugby World Cup year,” the Strategic Review in the Annual Report explained.

“However, this position deteriorated significantly as a result of the effects of the virus, primarily around the deferred completion of the Guinness 6 Nations tournament, during the financial year.

“Turnover and other income for the year was £55.5m, compared with the prior year level of £61.1m. This was the result of a number of factors in both normal operations and Covid-19 related matters. In operations, the Guinness 6 Nations cycle resulted in two home matches, compared with the previous year’s three, and two home international matches prior to the Rugby World Cup in 2019 compared with three November Test matches during the prior year. As a result, Ticket Income fell by £5.3m.

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“Broadcasting revenues fell by £4.5m, primarily due to the effects of Covid-19 on the 2020 Guinness 6 Nations tournament. With only 11 of the scheduled 15 games played in the year, broadcasting income from the tournament was similarly proportioned. Without the effects of Covid-19, broadcast income from the Guinness 6 Nations tournament would have increased compared with the prior year.

“Further, in relation to Broadcasting income, the value attributable to the two pre-Rugby World Cup matches in 2019 was lower than that for the three November Tests in 2018.

“Commercial income has risen £0.2m, in what remains a continuing challenging global sponsorship environment. Covid-19 has had a similar effect on this category of income in relation to the deferral of Guinness 6 Nations sponsorship as a result of the number of games played.

“Professional rugby income fell from £13.3m to £10.1m, generally as a result of the Covid-19 related curtailment of the season, both directly at the two teams, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and also from income streams from EPCR and Pro14.

“Within Development income and grants, the increase of £9.2m was mainly in relation to additional funding from World Rugby in the Rugby World Cup year, and Coronavirus job retention scheme income of £1.3m.

“Finally, the reduction of £2.0m in Hospitality and other income was in relation to the number of events this financial year, compared with the prior year.”


As previously outlined by Chief Executive Mark Dodson at AGM2.1,  Scottish Rugby Union Limited received dividends to the tune of £8.4m for its share in the sale of a 28 percent stake in PRO14 to CVC. The deal was announced 22nd May, nine days before the end of the financial year.

It has now been revealed that “subsequent to the year end, in October 2020, a further tranche of income was received in relation to the partnership, the value of which was £9.4m”.

“A further sum may be payable up to Financial Year 2024-25, depending on the financial performance of the Pro14 group,” the Annual Report adds.

Dodson stated when the CVC deal was announced that it would be worth “north of £20m”, while  his Irish counterpart, Philip Browne, valued it as worth £30m to his organisation.

The Welsh Rugby Union only show an income of £4.9m from CVC in respect of PRO14 in their audited accounts for the year to 30th June 2020, while the Irish Rugby Football Union only show £5m (€5.6m) to 31st July 2020.

Going concern

The Financial Statements discuss both a “base case cash flow forecast” and a “severe but plausible downside forecast” for the next 12 months and beyond, explaining that subsequent to year end a “working capital facility” of £11.8m and a “revolving credit facility” of £8.5m have been procured, while an advance of grant has also been secured from World Rugby as well as CVC’s investment in the PRO14.

The “base case cash flow forecast” makes the following key assumptions:

  •  50% attendance at the 2021 Guinness 6 Nations Championship and crowds allowed to resume at Guinness Pro 14 matches played in Scotland
  • Potential 100% attendance possible for the 2021 Autumn Internationals
  • Salary costs return to contracted levels

The “severe but plausible downside forecast” is based on the following assumptions:

  • No attendance at the 2021 Guinness 6 Nations Championship and no crowds allowed to resume at Guinness PRO14 matches played in Scotland
  • Potential 25% attendance possible for the 2021 Autumn Internationals
  • Consideration of further mitigating actions available, for example a delay or reduction in budgeted discretionary spend and use of the recently extended Covid-19 job retention scheme.

In both cases, Scottish Rugby’s Directors have concluded, and the auditors have agreed, that there is a “clear and reasonable expectation that the Union has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future and do not foresee a scenario where additional funds will be required”.

Player numbers

The Annual Report also provided an update on player numbers, stating that the total number of registered players (male, female, adult and youth)from 36,207 during the 2018-19 season to 36,966 during the 2019-20 season (net increase of 759).

The number of male adult players was given as 13,413, compared to 11,028 the year before, male youth players dropped from 21,176 to 19,303 during the same period, female adult rose from 1,658 to 2,126, and female youth dropped 2,345 to 2,124.

Scottish Rugby’s coach registration process went live in 2019-20 with 3,507 coaches being registered (3,237 male and 270 female).

About David Barnes 3956 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. With a near 10% drop in male youth players playing, does this indicate that the strategy to grow with game by shifting the emphasis to schools rugby away from clubs has failed?

    Could it be that the maximum playing time directive that means youth players have to choose between playing in a schools competition or a Club competition actually reduces the number of opportunities for kids to play, which leads to fewer players.

  2. The player numbers are something of a mystery.

    No reference date to when the data was taken.

    An increase of adult male players at a time when there was still significant match call offs.

    In these days of big data, it can’t be out with the capabilities on the team at Murrayfield to show:

    * total registered players by club
    * how many games each player played ( did player play once or 20 times?)
    * total players used by each team (eg 1st required 30 separate players)

    I’m sure there will be other criteria to explore

    This would be anonymous so no data protection issues though might be embarrassing for clubs.

      • And therein lies the problem James. Growing participation should be the number one priority for any sports governing body, something which should also underpin the development and long term progression of the elite end of the game. The data referenced could and should give us a clear picture of what these numbers currently are. Instead all we have is the headline figures. If you are involved in a club you will appreciate that while clubs may have a large number of players registered, this number is meaningless unless we drill down into how many players are actually playing regularly and how many are only playing once in a blue moon, if at all. The SRU made a significant investment in a player database called SCRUMs a few years ago, specifically to allow these numbers to be available at the touch of a button. I would suggest that these numbers that you don’t really care about are as important if not more important than the financial data that we receive. How can we know if the investment being made in the Domestic game with the intention of growing particiaption is delivering value for money without accurate data? It’s all there and it should be published. Transparency and accountability are fundamental to good governance.

      • Yes I have actually. Keep on getting fobbed of with club dashboards and we can’t provide that information. Data with analysis is useless. Gross data even more so

    • Cheers Rangi J, so the information is available to those who do care about…@DOM have a hook up of Scrums mate it is on there if you are that in need of it.

      • James, whilst the information is collected in a database, I am afraid it is not published. Therefore those of us who care about it, are unable to view it.

      • James – think I was pretty clear in my reply to you. The data isn’t available.

        The question is about broader trends and sharing that data which outside of the total player numbers SR seem to be unwilling to publish.

        There is no reason for this not to be published

  3. So the important meeting – much delayed – is scheduled for December 22nd. Criticise my scepticism if you wish but I can’t help thinking this is a date designed, long in advance, that in some way, restricts participation or any clarification of ‘any other questions arising’: who is ‘easily’ available a couple of days before Christmas?
    Even under normal conditions without Wuhan lurgy most blokes I know [myself included] are desperately seeking an appropriate Christmas present for she who must be obeyed right up to Christmas Eve.
    It’s similar ploy [in reverse] reminding me of working for the Wines and Spirits Free Trade side of a major Brewery and Sales meetings being called for at 1600hrs on the last working day before a Bank Holiday, thereby ensuring the Reps didn’t get the chance to slide off early after lunch, or even earlier.

    • “who is easily available a couple of days before Christmas”

      This year? everybody… it will take about 30 seconds to join the call.

      • It’s the principal of selecting the most inconvenient date, Wuhan lurgy or not I think it is a reasonable suggestion considering how they have been dragging their feet toward the Tumbril. If necessary use the search engine for Tumbril and you will get the picture.

  4. Biggest concern is the drop in Youth players of ~2000. This is not good enough and is the opposite of what we need to be happening in an area of the highest priority.

    • It will be a concern if it holds next year, this year has been an incredibly odd year for youth Rugby, it isn’t a huge shock to see a change in player numbers.

      The first few/weeks and months back were incredibly odd with players having to register in advance and limited numbers for sessions.

      • The data is for last season, 2019/20, which is what this report covers. You are correct that the data for 2020/21 will be largely irrelevant with what looks like no competitive games taking place at any level. But that’s for next year’s Annual Report. Let’s hope we can bounce back quickly and perhaps take stock on the health of our youth game and consider how we can collectively reverse this recent drop off and move forward positively.

  5. Let’s face it – the reason for the delay wasn’t the necessity to to take “extra time” to ensure that “everything was spot on” as rather ludicrously suggested by MisterC! It was, in short, to allow the organisation’s sceptical, unbelieving auditors PwC to be convinced that with shedloads of emergency funding, revised / increased bank lending support and desperately accelerated financial draw-downs, the SRU might just be able to stagger on and pay its bills for the next financial year or so.

    Clearly, the SRU’s financial position has been every bit as bad as we suspected earlier this year. Reading between the lines of these 2019/20 accounts and David’s report, the organisation – denuded of financial reserves and adequate liquidity, with a massive net current liabilities position, accrued essentially through poor management practice – had been sailing very, very close to the wind.

    Drawing down all available CVC monies ahead of schedule, obtaining an advance payment of RWC development funds, frantically negotiating emergency bank borrowing arrangements, bunging the responsibility for supporting the Union’s vastly over-inflated employee base on to the Government furlough scheme and grabbing with both hands the timely recently-announced Government emergency £20 million grant/loan funding package together appear to have represented a cobbled-together lifeboat for the bunch of struggling out-of-their-depth salesmen currently hanging on for dear life and a few bulging bonuses at the highly-risked helm of Scottish Rugby’s damaged vessel at this time.

    Will the numerous searching questions to be asked at AGM3 receive more than generalised bluster and big-talk (from the usual suspect) in response????

    • It would be difficult to put it better than your comment above, especially the comment drawing attention to out of depth small adds salesmen previously earning the tag of ‘not wanted on voyage. I agree with appropriate rewards for exemplary work effort but individuals better placed than myself are struggling to find that ability in strategic areas of Murrayfield.

  6. As I’ve said before the numbers are highly complex and it was only right that extra time was taken to make sure everything was spot on. In these times the number one priority is surviving the next few months until the fans can return

    • Why would 2019/20 be highly complex? The covid impact kicked in weeks before year end. The auditing was impacted by restrictions which would explain the delay but the rest is usual annual reporting.

      Unless of course there is a need to prop up the P&L and demonstrate that you are a going concern through various loans and other little accounting features that stretch the cash position like the £4M increase in creditors.

      I’m old enough to remember those heady days when the FD was claiming a debt free position.

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