Mark Dodson defends decision to postpone publication of Scottish Rugby’s accounts

Chief Executive states that securing contract extensions for Gregor Townsend and Richard Cockerill is in top 10 list of priorities

SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson flanked by President Dee Bradbury and General Counsel Robert How at last year's AGM. image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson flanked by President Dee Bradbury and General Counsel Robert How at last year's AGM. image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTTISH RUGBY chief executive Mark Dodson has defended the decision not to publish the business’ accounts ahead of this year’s AGM (part one), on the basis that the meeting has been split in two in order to cope with the social distancing requirements made by the Scottish Government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the Scottish Rugby Union bye laws require that the financial statements should be laid before the AGM “within four calendar months after the financial year ends but in any event no later than 31st August in the calendar year”, Dodson argued that this has not been possible because preparing the required paperwork has been much more complicated this year than usual due to the huge hit to the business caused by the virus.

Part one of the AGM will happen by video link next Saturday to take care of the essential business of ratifying Ian Barr as the new President and electing either Colin Rigby or Keith Wallace to take his place as Vice-President.
 
Part two will take place when club delegates can meet in the same room at a future date which is yet to be decided, and will take care of the two motions which have been brought by clubs to ensure better connectivity between the game’s ultimate stakeholders [the clubs] and management [the Board and Council]. This is also when the accounts will be reviewed.


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“The accounts have been so severely affected by Covid-19 that the reporting and auditing of those accounts is going to take much more time than normal,” said Dodson. “So, to give the most complete picture possible, we couldn’t hit the deadline before August 6th. Consequently, what we’re going to do is put those [accounts] out well before the second part of the AGM to give people time to understand.

“There’s payment issues, in terms of when you get paid what you are due, but also things like the PRO14 payments – that money was received in one financial year but not actually activated until the second financial year – so there are things that are extraordinary this year which we wouldn’t normally be dealing with.”

Dodson and his executive team have faced some heavy criticism during the last two years for a lack of transparency and accountability, with the handling of last year’s accounts a case in point. The claim that Scottish Rugby had achieved a “debt free position” was called into doubt, and it wasn’t until the statutory accounts were lodged at Companies House in mid-January that we found out the Chief Executive had been paid £933,000 for the year including bonuses. But Dodson insisted that there is no intention in this instance to keep stakeholders unnecessarily in the dark.
 
“It [pushing back publication of the accounts] is a decision not taken by any one individual,” he said. “Both the Board and Council have agreed that it is right and proper. There are no by-law infringements as far as I understand it, this is simply the best solution to the situation we face.
 
“I’m hopeful we’ll be able to get it [the second part of the AGM] done in the autumn. I don’t think there’s any desire from us to have the AGM going further back. If we can have it in October, potentially, before we start the Nations Cup, then I think we’ll be looking to do that.

“It’s about finding a balance between essential business and business which needs more clarity and more thought.”

 Dodson also confirmed that sitting President Dee Bradbury, who is recuperating after suffering a cardiac arrest in May, is highly unlikely to host the meeting. “I think it’s more likely that Ian Barr will be the chair,” he said. “We’re still a week away, but given Dee’s recent illness, I think Ian’s prepared to step in.”

Coaching continuity

While Dodson categorised Scottish Rugby as a ‘recruitment free zone’ whilst dealing with the fall-out from the Covid pandemic, he did reiterate his determination to secure contract extensions for Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend and Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill, both of whom are out of contract next summer.

“That’s one of the things we’ll try and push on with,” he said. “Our list of priorities changes often at the moment given the circumstances, but I’d say it’s in the top 10 priorities that we’ve got. 

“The reason being that, any new players who wants to join us over the next year or two will want to know who they’re playing for. We can’t have the World Cup in 2023 without getting to a point in time where Gregor is or is not the head coach. The same for Richard.  

“They’re both happy to talk to me about it, which is a good sign. They understand what they want to achieve and they’re telling me what they want from me to be able to do the best job they can.”


That was the month that was: July 2020

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 1985 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

11 Comments

  1. When some of the world’s biggest companies find themselves unable to forecast 2020 and complex payment issues and I suspect negotiations with Premier sports re loss of games it is going to be very tough to finalize accounts. So no conspiracy just uncertainty

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  2. Have to say the abuse Dodson gets on this website is surprising, he has done a ton a good for the game since joining, earns his big budget wage from what i have seen. I don’t care about transparency if he is getting us results. You don’t have to like him, but at least give him credit where it’s due, i would say he has handled this covid situation better than most.

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    • “he has done a ton a good for the game since joining, earns his big budget wage from what i have seen”.

      Truly astonishing. Perhaps you can enlighten us about the “ton of good”?

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  3. more alien abductions coming according to some on here. More witch hunt conspiracies than Donald Trump

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  4. It would be interesting to know whether recruitment (for Glasgow in particular) was lined up but then ditched due to financial circumstances. The Warriors have been left with a fairly threadbare squad in terms of quality, and it’s hard to see them competing seriously for either the Pro14 or in Europe next season.

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    • I find it tough to say it is threadbare during a summer when they have signed/retained Nakaraw and added Gray, Leinster and Muster aside (what’s new there) Glasgow arguably still have the 3rd best squad in the Pro 14.

      When it comes to Europe they face the same issues they always have when compared to sides with the budgets of those in France and the appeal of the Aviva over the Pro14.

      I find tails of woe when it comes to the Glasgow squad much exaggerated at times.

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  5. Zero transparency, absence of trust…. Throws in that stuff about coach contracts as a distraction. SRU member clubs get the management & governance they deserve!

    A course of sodium thiopental might prove beneficial in the case of the chubby Mancunian.

    Dodson appears deluded (or possibly strangled by his once-shiny halo, stuck around several of his chins).

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  6. Just as in any relationship when ‘trust’ has gone anything of this nature is open to question.

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    • It doesn’t read like he is scared of anything, the detail around it is quite clearly explained in the article and makes a lot of sense as to the why.

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