Huge hike in SRU top executive earnings revealed

Executive salaries more than doubled during the year up to 31st May 2019 despite concerns about performance of top directors

SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson has benefitted from a huge hike in earnings. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson
SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson has benefitted from a huge hike in earnings. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

THE highest paid executive in the Scottish Rugby Union – usually the Chief Executive – received aggregate emoluments of £933k (before pension contributions) for the year up to the 31st May 2019, more than double the £455k earned the previous year.

The fees and salaries for all the company directors has jumped from £1.13m to £2.246m. These figures include the crystallisation and release of bonuses accrued during the past three years as part of the organisation’s ‘Long Term Incentive Plan’.

The accounts, which were initially prepared in time for the SRU AGM back in August and reported a £61m turnover, were finally registered at Companies House yesterday and went online today CLICK HERE.

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Chief Executive Mark Dodson signed a three-year contract extension in March 2018 (despite having two years of his current contract still to run) meaning he is signed up until after the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.  This deal was struck during the period between the end of the Keith Russell unfair dismissal tribunal and the delivery of a damning verdict in that case.

The SRU Remuneration Committee when Dodson was awarded this new contract was chaired by former Scotland prop Ian McLauchlan, with Mike Monro, Lesley Thomson, David McMillan and Rob Flockhart (part year) all serving on the committee during the 2017-18 financial year. The Committee is responsible for making recommendations, within agreed terms of reference, on remuneration policies, monitoring and approving executive directors’ and certain senior executive remuneration packages, setting and monitoring key performance targets and reviewing succession planning.

During 2018-19, McLauchlan (Chair until 1 April 2019), Adam Gray, William Gardner, Thomson and McMillan served on the Committee.

For reference, the Welsh Rugby Union (£90.5m turnover, £49.9m surplus, 358 staff) paid their highest earning director £351k in total (including bonus and other benefits) last year. The highest paid director of the Scottish Football Association  for year up to 31st December 2018 was £376,169 (turnover £37.5m). Newcastle United (£178m turnover) paid their highest earning director £300k in their most recent accounts and Southampton FC (turnover of £150m) paid £675k.

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About David Barnes 4030 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The 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. The question is surely what would be the SRU turnover if handled by someone else with business sense. Probably about the same given that most of the income is from Murrayfield tickets and a decent sponsor. That is not beyond the wit of a capable guy on half the salary. The clubs are the bedrock and get very little to supplement their existence which is usually based on voluntary help. Time for changes or what is left of traditional rugby areas will be gone.

  2. Obviously our chief exec is paid twice as much as the Welsh chief exec. That’s why we’re twice as good as they are

  3. great comments all – can I suggest that future tickets to Murrayfield and all other Pro14 and club matches bear the message that “At least 2% of the ticket price will be reserved for the remuneration of our CEO and executive staff”?
    Clearly the Gammell review recommendations are now dead in the water. This must be a wake up call to the clubs and trustees.
    The game needs a broader and deeper playing base in Scotland. Money splashed on overseas stars such as Nakarawa for short term impact has to be redirected to imaginative long term development to expand the public participation. Summer amateur rugby, indoor touch rugby in winter, girls, ladies expansion. A kids version which is skills based ahead of size and power. So many better ways to use this money. I hope the clubs can now band together and retrieve the game from the paid executives at SRU head office.

  4. I wonder if that makes him the highest paid exec in world rugby. Hopefully it’s not the start of a feeding frenzy on the new money that’s about to come into the game. We need to build the house from the ground up.

  5. I woke up this morning as I normally do(Bad day when I don’t ),Make a cup of coffee,check my emails and then proceed to the news,World,uk then Scotland,the world is as messed up as ever,then to sport,tap on Rugby and my world turns RED with rage as I read about the SRU senior excecutives and their wages,totally UNJUSTIFIABLE and UNDESERVED,irrespective of whatever wage formula may have been used to calculate such nonsense.Executive pay is an International/National disease just leading to and encouraging a PARASITIC class of neerdowells.
    If Mr Dodson was a true rugby lover he would do the job for a quarter of what he is getting and be happy to be so FORTUNATE.A lot of criticism should be directed at the board who gave him this contract,how do they all go to sleep at night?,probably with a bottle provided by a sponsor.
    I hope the crowd at Murrayfield boooo him and his cohorts and have banners telling him tae get tae fek tae think again.

    • As Victor Meldrew would say “I don’t believe it!
      After everything that has happened in Scottish rugby for at least the last 5 years. In my opinion as a long time fan of Scottish rugby, this is completely shameful in light of everything else that seems to be going on. Based on the current state of Scottish rugby this news is completely unacceptable in light of the day-to-day reality of the SRU.

  6. This is not only shocking, it is obscene.

    The performance targets must be wrong to justify this sort of increase, particularly when much more successful peers in other home nations earn less.

    Put the money back into the game!

  7. I would remind everyone that the Gammell and Murray review proposes that controll of basically everything will be in the hands of Dodson and his merry bunch of high earners if votes are in favour of the review.
    Is that what anyone with a real interest in Scottish Ruby wants? Vote for the recomendations and you give away a say that you are unlikely ever to have again! Vote Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Lifted from the Glasgow warriors forjm but some very valid points.

    “Well first up he didn’t pay himself.
    Second, he was paid less last year than the year before that.
    And third, the figure quoted includes 3 years rolled up bonuses, linked to a long term incentive plan (which is good practice and a guard against the short term quick buck) so it isn’t actually a one one year payment.
    Now that isn’t an attempt to justify or not high salaries. But I do like to deal with facts rather than half truths.”

    What do you say David?

    • Which is why the Remco and Board bear the responsibility for this. They will have set the KPIs on how salary is based and how the incentive plan operates.

      Obviously not based on increasing player numbers in Scotland or representative teams positions in world rugby.

    • The article highlights the role of the Remuneration Committee, his salary the year before and the Union’s ‘Long Term Incentive Plan’ so not really sure where the accusation of ‘half truths’ comes from.

  9. Actually don’t have much of an issue with this, albeit his salary does seem inflated. He obviously agreed a good deal when the vultures were circling for Scott Johnson and Dave Rennie, and the SRU realised they couldn’t let him go as well. Murrayfield is nearly always a sell out these days, and the top players who moved abroad were probably always going to leave after giving good service. He did what was required of him at the world cup, regardless of whether it was the right thing to do morally. All in all he’s a business man and the business is in better shape now than when he started, so he is being rewarded.

  10. Unbelievable, all age groups of teams struggling to fund raise for basic kit – bag packing, car washing, coffee mornings. As Rory said retired folk and folk in full time jobs giving up many hours per week for senior teams maintaining clubrooms, pitches, washing kit etc – just to keep clubs afloat!
    Scottish Women playing for their country getting peanuts – I’m talking less than £1k per year the last time I asked! I am absolutely gobsmacked!

  11. It is truly incredible that Mr Dodson even has a job let alone is being allowed to take so much money out of the game in Scotland. He has presided over a period in which the reputation of the governing body has plunged to an all time low and yet he has somehow got an extended contract and massive salary increase. Something stinks.

    Who exactly is responsible for this outrage?

  12. at Hawick, we try to run a club with all our heart and energy. I think the assistant treasuer got paid around a handful of pounds per annum, the bar staff a minimum wage and the groundsman claims a small sum for working blinking hard to keep grass growing under the mud , as President i have certainly missed out on claiming my 933k , silly me.
    our emails do not usually get answered by anyone in authority at hq, sheila is the only one who seems to us to bother, and so i suggest that an additional annual allowance for laptops for the top echelon would be handy.
    if i got my business (sorry yes like everyone else working hard in clubland i have a real job to do, or others are using up a huge chunk of retired time ,as well as willingly slogging my guts out for scottish club rugby) into a spot of bother that cost us tens of thousands i might have had to pay it from my salary, or been held to task instead of nearly doubling my salary!
    we would like to know what everyone does for those 15k,1.178k and 933k,but to earn a few extras we have a game v accies on saturday and we could do with help on the bar to replace rob the unpaid kit cleaner from working for free on the bar, so lads at hq come on it will be fun, and an extra £40 net for 5 hours would boost those pay packets further.
    the unsung stars of scottish rugby are,like in most clubs, my committee, our volunteers, the guys who sit on committees for club rugby travelling the land in the evenings for no expenses,and not those who get paid stellar wages.
    i do not subscribe to the view that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys, but yet again what do i know, after all i head up some aspects of a club in a town that is somewhere south of edinburgh,within the bottom 10 economies and hardship areas in scotland, probably just about north of the border, flooded most of the time, where a couple of internationalists have surprisingly emerged from the mire ,thanks only to hq,over the last near 150 years.
    well done chaps ,keep up the good work……….but next year if there is a spare million floating around then remember us paupers in the club game instead.

    • Well said Rory.

      It’s not like they were badly paid previously.

      The finger needs pointing at the Remco and Board. Extending Mr Dodsons contract just ahead of the Russell case was a scandal.

  13. Is This what I’m paying £400 for a season ticket for? I’d imagine the 67000 people who out their bums on seats for every home international would want their money invested in the teams success and grassroots rugby.
    Methinks Mr Dodson is starting to have a bit Of a credibility issue

  14. No wonder the Scottish game is in disarray. This chump creaming off at the top, get what 5 times an average pro player salary and for what? Obviously riding roughshod over Glasgow fans while happily taken their inflated season ticket fees is going down well at BT Murrayfield. No wonder Scotstoun has hundreds of empty seats at sold out matches.

  15. 450K, basically another Super6 team that could allow young players to make rugby their profession, in Scotland or elsewhere, or give the current ones a bit more to make a decent full-time wage.

    I do admire the way the national team plays nowadays, and the Pro teams do play some nice rugby – but I’m not seeing a massive improvement in the rest of the setup to warrant this kind of pay increase.

    Waiting for the SRU to make a smart move like making the amateur leagues a Summer sport.

  16. 450K, basically another Super6 team that could allow young players to make rugby their profession, in Scotland or elsewhere, or give the current ones a bit more to make a decent full-time wage.

    I do admire the way the national team plays nowadays, and the Pro teams do play some nice rugby – but I’m not seeing a massive improvement in the rest of the setup to warrant this kind of pay increase.

    Waiting for the SRU to make a smart move like making the amateur leagues a Summer sport.

  17. May be a pedantic point, but why are the pension contributions so far out of kilter with the gross pay?

    • Individuals lucky enough to earn over £210k only get tax relief on pension contributions up to £10k each tax year.

  18. Been saying this for way too long. SFU executive pay should NOT be based on turnover alone.

    Whilst Doddo’s bank balance rises the Scottish game has stalled if not gone backwards.

    Well done Doddo, another 5 years and god knows where Scottish Rugby will be.

  19. It apalls that these receive this in payments of annual salaries. Some fantastic increases. Meanwhile while Scottish rugby clubs are struggling to survive on the money Scottish rugby allocates them. I urge all clubs to vote down this governance review

  20. Most of the financial performance has come from the bt deal. But we should also recognise the establishment of the super 6 as a major development milestone for the future. Is he worth that much? No I don’t think so and CEO of comparable sized business would be on about 300k.however we can’t quibble if it’s contracted. The targets were too easy to hit or the kickers too generous.

  21. We won feck all in the last three years ,
    So how does these fat cats get bonuses ? targets are too low , bloody disgrace nearly a million pound for CEO Dodson
    no European honours
    No Triple crown
    no grand slam
    And didn’t turn up for World Cup !!
    A joke !!! He needs to go

    • Stephen don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m not sure we’ll be seeing European honours, a grand slam or a world cup in the near to distant future, regardless of the SRU’s governance. Our playing numbers/population just won’t allow it. Culturally we’re along way off Wales and new Zealand with our obsession with football. Like you I continue to hope they come along though! Sure makes me happy/proud to see a packed Murrayfield giving us a chance though.

  22. Dobson is a joke, it’s clearly a boys club over there just lining each other’s pockets while the Scottish game suffers. Scotland’s best talent is leaving our clubs, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but they aren’t getting replaced adequately. The warriors have gone from challenging for the pro12/14 and now look like they won’t even reach the play offs. It’s great seeing Edinburgh doing better but it’s only a matter of time before their best players leave and aren’t replaced. Warriors have a fantastic coach but he doesn’t have the players required to take them to where they could be under him. Hopefully Edinburgh don’t loose Cockerill anytime soon and actually keep there best players.

    That money could have been spent on players to improve the club teams and just to improve facilities around the country to bring through the next generation of players for Scotland.

  23. Maybe I m missing something here but how can Mark Dobson be worth three times that of his counter parts? And us less fortunate struggle to pay for our keen as muster rugby fan children’s way to a game!

  24. Obviously worth every penny.

    Scotland’s position in world rugby is the highest ever. Our domestic game is smashing all records and games only get postponed for weather.

    Meanwhile back here on planet reality….

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