Mark Dodson to take 30 percent salary deferral in response to coronavirus crisis

Executive and non-executive Board members and professional coaches will take 25 percent deferrals over five month period

SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson has taken a 30 percent salary deferral. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson has taken a 30 percent salary deferral. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SRU chief executive Mark Dodson will take a 30 percent salary deferral for the period from 1st April to 1st September, while the executive and non-executive directors of the organisation will take 25 percent deferrals for the same period, as the governing body looks to tighten its belt during the height of the coronavirus crisis.

Meanwhile, Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, SRU director of rugby Jim Mallinder, Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill and Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie (whose contract runs out in June) will also take 25 percent deferrals.

There is no stated plan at the moment to defer other SRU staff wages, although everything will inevitably be under review given the seriousness of the situation.

It is understood that no timeframe has been put on when the deferrals will be repaid. “These initial steps and other steps will be reviewed ongoing in light of the challenge the sport faces,” said the statement issued by Murrayfield at lunchtime today [Tuesday].


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“We are working extremely hard to navigate the sport of rugby in Scotland through these extremely challenging times,” said Colin Grassie, the Chairman of the Scottish Rugby Board. “We would like to thank all our staff, sponsors, stakeholders for their support and collaboration.

“We have a huge challenge ahead of us, but we will get there together and we will leave no stone left unturned to ensure the long term sustainability of Scottish Rugby and the sport in Scotland.”

The English RFU announced last week that their executive team are taking a cut in remuneration – as opposed to a deferral of salaries – in excess of 25% in response to the financial strain caused by a shutdown in all rugby for the foreseeable future. In addition, Board fees will be reduced by 75%.

The WRU have taken a similar approach, with senior staff, including head coach Wayne Pivac and CEO Martyn Phillips, taking 25% reductions to salary, and further staff taking pay cuts of either 25% or 10% with the difference broadly accounted for by the extent to which roles are directly related to professional rugby.

Meanwhile, the IRFU have introduced a payment deferral model for all employees “based on an equitable sliding scale which ranges from 10% to 50%, effective from April, and beyond if required”.

The SRU statement added that various business scenarios are being considered in respect of resumption of professional and international rugby, and detailed financial modelling activities are ongoing against each scenario, acknowledging that “the evolving crisis gripping the country will have significant challenges for the game at all levels in Scotland for some time to come”.

“We are currently closely analysing the Government support options being offered to organisations so that we will continue to feed this into informing our actions,” said the statement. “Once the Board has further considered the relevant information and its potential impacts it will share a further update with our staff and stakeholders.”

The statement also confirmed that BT Murrayfield has been offered to the Scottish Government to utilise the facilities in any way the country needs.

Further status updates from Scottish Rugby include –

  • Scottish Rugby’s “Threat Management Group” continues to meet via video conferencing each day to discuss key operational topics in light of COVID-19 including updates on health, our people, finance, professional and domestic rugby competitions, rugby development, stadium and facilities amongst other critical matters.
  • All work on Project Eden, the new stadium for Edinburgh Rugby development on the BT Murrayfield back pitches, has been suspended until further notice in line with public health guidelines
  • Scottish Rugby continues to work closely with World Rugby and its fellow Unions in relation to the international calendar moving forward and has no update on the planned 2020 Summer Tour at this time.
  • All non-critical capital expenditure on BT Murrayfield stadium and wider projects placed on hold until further notice.

Finn Russell looks forward to having a stronger relationship with Gregor Townsend

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 1818 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.

49 Comments

  1. Well Chris, credit where credit is due, you go to great lengths to make your point, unfortunately not many, if any agree with you either on the comments here or in all probability elsewhere, including your club.
    The reason that it gets up my nose regarding Dodson and others at the SRU is that they are on excessive salaries in any event. [Note my stance in another post regarding the more transient employees of the SRU]. You might argue that that stance is a different argument, however this episode simply exemplifies Dodson’s ‘Deil tak the hindmost’ attitude.
    The respect toward ‘Leadership’ is earned not given with the title or position, Dodson and others at the top end should have considered their position as representatives of the Scottish Rugby Union and if a gesture was to be made, make one with relevance rather than the somewhat empty gesture that is in effect saying ‘OK you can pay me later’ in the clear and certain knowledge that come what may he will argue his case for his 30%.
    Do you think when it comes to it he will accept without argument the withholding of the salary? Will he insist on his bonus, of course that’s in the bank, he is only lending future monies.
    In addition I would argue, and perhaps some would agree, that the staggering bonus he has organised for himself over and above a generous salary has little or nothing to do with his efforts. Surely the Gate receipts and merchandise profits are first and foremost generated by the team winning, well that’s my opinion for what its worth.
    With regard to your assertion that there is a collective backslapping [bar yourself?] the only thing that was correct in that comment was the status of Dodson: and on that Bombshell, as the saying goes, I rest my case.

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  2. This was an opportunity for Dodson to recover his disastrous PR and unsurprisingly he has blown it. He could have offered £500k from his bloated income to the hardship fund for clubs, where low paid staff and volunteers will be feeling the pain. A deferral for someone on a huge income is an insult. Dodson has lost all respect and must go. (I assume Chris is a troll – so not worth the time of day).

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    • Yes, because a person thinking different to another and looking at actual things makes them a “troll” – at this stage should someone be giving up 500k of their own salary? Why? Because he is well paid, he works a pretty high profile job, the salary comes with the territory

      This “500k” is that money the SRU has actually even “lost” yet? When was this “lost” the only other real money spinner to come before Autumn was likely the 1872 game and maybe a home Play Off for Edinburgh, other than that – the general “money making” moments have actually taken place for Scotland.

      You are also saying that at this moment is there a need for clubs to have a cash reserve of 1 MILLION POUNDS (this mythical additional 500k on top of the 500k already in place) – a million pounds? Really, to go to the salary of what is predominantly volunteer driven service, I “work” for my local club, how much do I get to earn from that money?. I would be staggered if local clubs are generating turnover closing in on 1 million pounds to need that kind of cash hole replenished – good luck working through that minefield though and trying to explain how such an excess amount of cash is going to be divided

      The 500k in place for clubs at this time is a perfectly sensible amount of money to have there IF and WHEN clubs need it – it was also mentioned as a starting point, should the situation change that volume of cash can change with it.

      I would also ask why should Dodson AND ONLY Dodson be giving up that amount of money? What is the criteria for that? The irony if that was to happen (not that it would because there is literally very little logical reason to it) is that Dodson would most likely win at an employment tribunal because there isn’t actually logical sense behind that happening other than “well I think he is a bit of an arse and earns too much” good luck with that – such comments as your make me wonder who the actual “troll” is as your comment in one without logic or sense and simply agenda driven nonsense against one person.

      And no I don’t “work” for the SRU (to address another post) and can actually on occasion see fault in some of the work of Dodson thus I can balance things (mad as that is) in this instance the reaction from some to this, to me just reads a bit like a bit of an echo chamber and back slapping re what “an erse” Dodson is without actually looking at his action, his actions here will most likely be helping to secure employment for others in the short term – that is a “decent” thing to do

      *** SPOILER SPOILER ****

      it is also something open for review as and when the situation changes which it would most like if the games in Autumn don’t go ahead as that would than seriously dent Scotland in the way it has….

      Wales – who lost a 6 Nations game, most of their summer events at their stadium etc…they have lost a load of revenue already

      Ireland – who lost a 6 Nations game, a high profile European game at the Aviva etc..

      England – who have a hell of a minefield to get through

      USA/Australia and to a lesser extent NZ were in a financial state long before this happened (a state the SRU have avoided getting into in recent years)

      Chuck in with England, Wales and Ireland the higher number of players and staff to pay, the higher number of season tickets to reimburse etc and so on.

      This event actually looked at from a wider angle, shows Scotland might have actually put it’s self in a place to stand on it’s own feet during this. That is actually to be applauded in some ways that they haven’t left them self as vulnerable as other Unions have through overspend and poor situation management as Ireland aside (the only other country to take a similar stance to Scotland shock horror) all others involved those mentioned WRU, England, NZ, Aus were in a terrible place before any of this happened – while the pandemic is out their control, the vulnerable situation they are in isn’t.

      But of course thinking that is all just the thoughts of a “troll”

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    • Well Chris, credit where credit is due, you go to great lengths to make your point, unfortunately not many, if any agree with you either on the comments here or in all probability elsewhere, including your club.
      The reason that it gets up my nose regarding Dodson and others at the SRU is that they are on excessive salaries in any event. [Note my stance in another post regarding the more transient employees of the SRU]. You might argue that that stance is a different argument, however this episode simply exemplifies Dodson’s ‘Deil tak the hindmost’ attitude.
      The respect toward ‘Leadership’ is earned not given with the title or position, Dodson and others at the top end should have considered their position as representatives of the Scottish Rugby Union and if a gesture was to be made, make one with relevance rather than the somewhat empty gesture that is in effect saying ‘OK you can pay me later’ in the clear and certain knowledge that come what may he will argue his case for his 30%.
      Do you think when it comes to it he will accept without argument the withholding of the salary? Will he insist on his bonus, of course that’s in the bank, he is only lending future monies.
      In addition I would argue, and perhaps some would agree, that the staggering bonus he has organised for himself over and above a generous salary has little or nothing to do with his efforts. Surely the Gate receipts and merchandise profits are first and foremost generated by the team winning, well that’s my opinion for what its worth.
      With regard to your assertion that there is a collective backslapping [bar yourself?] the only thing that was correct in that comment was the status of Dodson: and on that Bombshell, as the saying goes, I rest my case.

    • Chris
      My views on the Governance of BTM are well known, and clearly yours are very different.
      I have no problem with this.
      However I would like to question some of your statements.
      “Comes with the Territory” Which territory would that be?
      Others have shown the MD’s salary is the best for a home union when comparing size by a mile, and even the bluster that comes out of BTM can hardly claim that performance and participation are stellar.
      If the territory is Scotland then his salary is around three times the average for a business of a comparable size.
      On income, there is lost income from Glasgow and Edinburgh games lost, and there will plenty more fans, sponsors and indeed other Unions who may struggle to give income going forwards. Who knows when the season will restart,under what restrictions, and who will have money to spend on it?
      Yes clubs have few employees, but I can only assume as a fellow volunteer you have not looked at P & L and balance sheets of your club?. Covid-19 will cost my own club £13k of lost income (Sevens, Dinners, Fundraisers) by the end of April alone, and the £5k max available for the Clubs from the hardship fund, whilst appreciated, will not cover unavoidable bills for more than around 6 weeks with a mothballed clubhouse. So I would expect the £500k welcome though it is will be well oversubscribed, indeed a BTM staffer told me as much this week. We need cash now and have applied to two other sources which if successful will provide within a week. Not the end of May as promised by BTM.
      With respect to cuts, any business in the UK will be looking to see if it can cut salaries for those above the furlough ceiling. So why should BTM be any different? England and Wales have already done so.
      Finally we shall see today, if BTM keep its promise to the Media, just how good our finances are, but the with £3m of income normally lost in a WC year, and worrying signs of Autumn Test and 6N 2021 going on sale earlier than ever before the Virus, I would be less optimistic than you.

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    • No problem with you expressing your opinion — but do us all a favour and express it more succinctly.

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    • Still going George eh… been there, done that – established where I think you are with all of this – I don’t really think you are able to post something about Dodson with logic so posting it once in reply to me was a waste of your time let alone posting it 4 times mate.

      @Keith

      England and Wales are verging on redundant in this conversation – England and their situation is nothing like Scotland, it is a million miles removed the mess England will be left in – Wales were never stable before this event – talk of them doesn’t really mean much – they have had to make bigger cuts now as they are already inuring bigger loss and Wales were never really even overly stable to begin with.

      A lot of the rest of your post is, might, may and could which is why the situation is under an ongoing review…

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    • Two things to clarify, I am not your ‘mate’: thankfully and I apologised for the apparent system problem. Frankly even repeating it 4 times wouldn’t have made you any the wiser.

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  3. Kerching………..!!

    The till’s will continue to loudly ring in the Dodo household.

    The SRU have long since been a disgrace……this action no more than confirms what we know already.

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    • The deferral works as long as they have the money to cover this. If they furlough the staff (and I bet there’s more to come on this) and don’t top up their wages then this would certainly look bad. You paint a rosey picture of how well they’re doing financially then whats the point of the deferral. Like all businesses they’re going to lose a lot of money here but my question is where’s all the money coming to pay the backdate wages. This ain’t going away and at the moment they’d have been better doing nothing.

    • “as long as there is money to cover this is” which is clearly why it has been caveated with a review a later date…

      The “point” of it is just now is it is a way generating the cash from what would be match day revenue from Edinburgh and Glasgow in the interim through salary not currently being paid to certain employees.

      They will lose money, clearly – but I would assume ways will be found to attempt to make some of that back i.e rearranging the 1872 Cup game as a way to celebrate the return of Rugby, finding deals with sponsors and ST holders to help each side wash their face through extensions of current deals to account for any possible “void” season etc rather than becoming entangled in legal battles and loses to both sides, when possible and other ways to help fill some of the financial holes.

      I would imagine as CEO Dodson will be heavily involved in that and likely target driven…

      Doing what they have is quite clearly better than doing nothing it has been a way of generating cash, which even for a business doing well is still required – it is a pretty logical, decent holding place given their current situation – if they aren’t currently in a place to HAVE to simply sacrifice salary it doesn’t then HAVE to be done just “because”

      The better PR move in all of this will likely be a reflection in ticket costs to reflect the cost of living moving forward but at this moment I can see why it is still waaaaayyyyy too early for these decisions to be made.

      Other Unions have had to make decisions they have as they are desperate NOW.

    • “as long as there is money to cover this is” which is clearly why it has been caveated with a review a later date…
      The “point” of it is just now is it is a way generating the cash from what would be match day revenue from Edinburgh and Glasgow in the interim through salary not currently being paid to certain employees.
      They will lose money, clearly – but I would assume ways will be found to attempt to make that back i.e rearranging the 1872 Cup game as a way to celebrate the return of Rugby, finding deals with sponsors and ST holders to help each side wash their face through extensions of current deals to account for any possible “void” season etc rather than becoming entangled in legal battles and loses to both sides.
      Doing what they have is quite clearly better than doing nothing – it has been a way of generating cash, which even for a business doing well is still required – it is a pretty logical, decent holding place given their current situation.

  4. 2 articles sitting side by side on the rugby union page of the BBC news app say it all.
    “Wales coach Pivac takes 25% pay cut”
    “Scotland coach Townsend takes 25% wage deferral”
    What planet are the SRU on ??

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    • A sounder financial one than the WRU with less Pro teams, 1 more 6 Nations game in the bank and less dependent on stadium revenue than Wales typically are and have lost events this summer?

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    • They had wafer thin profit last year, this year there’s going to he a huge hole. I’m comfortable if the money is there but would be annoyed if staff get furloughed and face a wage cut and all they do is dip into any cvc investment to fund their own gap. I thought the speed they set up the 500k for clubs was great but a deferral smells a little funny. I guess it’s good to disagree but even if they do have the cash from a PR point of view this is a stinker.

  5. This is not a cost saving at all, as it is only a deferral, meaning they are still due the money while income falls, thus putting us (their paymasters) in debt. Time for a major wake up call at the top.

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  6. You couldn’t make this up. The SRU are living in a parallel universe. I need to get Dodson to sort out my next employment contract. Whoever sanctioned his current contract is guilty of gross incompetence.

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  7. Poor message from the top, is the sru the only company to have seen little or no impact on the bottom line during this crisis. Does the remaining games including Edinburgh v glasgow mean nothing financially that they can role out this token gesture. It’s astounding, I think they must have their eye on the cvc money, rather than building a foundation, they can skim the top so that Dobson can finally get his million quid.

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  8. How do people with such a lack of empathy,decency,moral character gravitate to senior rolls in our lives beggars belief.It use to be said that the cream settles to the top,not anymore.
    The decision of deferral would suggest that SHITE floats!!

  9. Yes it’s not only Dodson but he’s the CEO. he could have, and should have set an example, led the way and taken a temporary cut like many other sporting organisation executives, players and staff.
    It’s the last straw for me and I’m not filling his trough any longer. No more Warriors or Scotland merchandise or tickets until he goes.

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  10. This time I believe the SRU have made a huge mistake, they’d have been better saying nothing. It would have been a huge gesture of good will if the “ top earners across the board had taken a non refundable salary cut. This could have included Board members, employees, coaches and players. 🐻

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  11. WRU announce cuts as have RFU. Now they will be more badly affected with loss of games and the well know issues already present at the RFU.

    The other question is what are the 400 odd staff at Murrayfield actually doing at this time? I see the SFA have put all their stuff on furlough.

  12. Yes, it is the decent thing to do.

    No one knows a thing about this situation in terms of what the total amount payment will down the line or what it will be, but why bother considering such things…. it is the same stance the Irish Union has taken. I would imagine it will be a moving situation based on as when Rugby resumes.

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    • What!
      Just where do you get the idea that Dodson is doing something decent, he will probably have a codicil in the agreement that gives him compensation for not getting his full whack on time. The man has a harder neck than Desperate Dan.

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    • It isn’t Dodson exclusive…..there are numerous names involved in this – do I think both Townsend and Cokerill are doing something decent by deferring their salary? Yes, Yes i do – then by default given Dodson is doing THE EXACT SAME THING, I also think he is doing something decent

      No one asked for this situation, that people would defer their salary at this time is something I see as a decent act, I apply that to anyone on in any walk of life.

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    • In note the equivalents in the footballing world (the SFA) are taking a pay cut. Agree with The Bear, SRU should have said nowt. Pigs in trough springs to mind…….

    • With regard to others apart from Dodson. I can well imagine that it was at Dodson’s instigation that the deferral action was implemented and in that respect the ‘Sheep’ have followed.

      BUT for the sake of equality, I am not impressed with Eddie Jones dropping only 25% for instance, I am sure EJ and others could afford more, but even at that Dodson and others are making no loss of earnings and Dodson in particular is on shedloads anyway.

    • How can you know what he (Jones) could have afford? That is an absurd assumption just because he has earned a decent salary – that salary most likely comes with a higher cost of life re property he owes etc, I highly doubt he could take a 40/50% salary cut “just because” and there is also (despite the situation) a certain element of why should he re Jones.

      In the instance of coaches working in Scotland (Cockerill) or Mallinder they have only all too recently seen how easy it can be to be removed from a role, it is only a month or so since a fair few wanted Townsend sacked – had that a: happened and him b: been left without salary would people have been wanting his mortgage paid now? I highly doubt it. A coaches role is not a consistent salary and one they can always depend on.

      It is a deferral to be reviewed at a later date, talk of what the SFA or other Unions etc has done is actually a bit redundant in the context of the SRU given, they aren’t the same business, likely don’t have the same outgoings or potential loss of earning – at the moment the biggest loss is the 1872 Cup game, Scotland haven’t lost a 6 Nations game like Wales or Ireland, missed out on a Champions Cup game at Murrayfield, they have don’t the same number of ProTeams etc, they actually don’t have a great deal of Season Pass holders to be remunerated – the salary situation will likely change if Scotland miss out on Autumn Internationals, the potential “loss” to Scotland is at the moment mostly projected and possible loss rather than actual.

      We are living in a sad situation but some people at the moment don’t HAVE to give up their salary, it isn’t an absolute condition of a Pandemic.

    • It’s not same stance when every other Union has taken CUTS n Irish CEO earns only £175k compared to Dodson….one has presided over triple crowns grand slams 6 n titles European Cups pro 12/15 titles and a vibrant youth scene. The other has presided over a terrifying drop in player numbers and invested more money in teams outside of Scotland than our own clubs…..

    • I am struggling to understand your motivation in continuing to support Dodson in particular and others regarding deferral as opposed to accepting a reduction of and let us be honest here salaries that are considerably greater than most of us dream of or aspire to whilst offering up a defense of ‘how do I know if they can afford it or not’ as in the case you offer up of Eddie Jones and by inference Dodson and Co.
      The suggestion that they earn a lot but that means they have higher living expenses, well sorry but if Jones can’t get by on upwards of £560k [after the 25% reduction] what sort of lifestyle do you think he has? Before you make any comment about Gross or Net remuneration, trust me Jones [and Dodson] will have plenty of specialists that ensure that the Cheque to the Inland Revenue is as modest as possible within the Tax Structure Laws.
      Another struggle I have is whether you work for the SRU Publicity Department or are connected in some manner shape or form, or are a pal of Dodson or have some underlying reason for defending the indefensible seeing yourself as an Advocate for the ‘Underdog’ which in Dodson’s case resembles a well fed and well paid Rotweiler rather than a poor Heinz 57 variety Pooch shivering in an SRSPCA advert.
      I am only suggesting that those at the top like Dodson should show a greater respect to how the public view the body that he represents, the SRU, by struggling to keep body and soul together on ¾ of a £million. I am not suggesting that other potentially, here today and gone tomorrow players or coaches need to make a similar gesture after all is said and done they are on a great deal less than Dodson and Co.

    • Brilliant, me unhinged, I think you need to look at your stance on this matter and on reflection consider how you have the temerity to suggest that I am a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. No one is suggesting that reduction in salary should be compulsory, BUT if you are going to make a gesture, make one rather than acting as a ‘lending agent’ to the SRU as in ‘Ok take 30% off but I will want it back when things improve’ and trust me Dodson will ensure that one way or another he gets his dosh or some other compensation.

  13. The big part for me is the main executive board and the non-exec directors. The main board should be taking a cut not a deferral. The non-exec’s should not be getting paid at all. A non-exec by nature is usually retired or is a non-exec on many boards and from a background that means their own pension is sorted.

    Utter nonsense…the ordinary people who make the union run should be fully supported. they don’t have seven figure salaries, 2nd homes or are mortgage free.

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  14. Cut would have actually meant something, a small act of contrition perhaps….but instead a deferral which means nothing.

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  15. I have to agree with all the other comments. How do they justify “deferring” salaries while other people are being furloughed to protect their jobs! Awfully generous of them all.

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  16. Some bloody big deal. “I will have the dosh, it is mine and will remain mine, but not yet”. Doubt if it will impact the domestic cashflow significantly of any of them. The term token gesture comes to mind. Other people losing jobs, some now on 80% of salary, but not for Dodson and his acolytes.

    This is clearly straight from the SRU Comms/PR team having been asked to put out something to show how much ‘we are all in this together’. Surprised Dodson isn’t taking legal action against China & Wuhan for Covis-19 the impact on his pay packet.

    The SRU Comms/PR have been earning their crust starting with the Townsend induced Finn Russell debacle supported by (Captain, newly appointed) Stuart Hogg in his quisling role , and the subsequent love in from the players towards the lovely Gregor. When will it all burst open?

    Note that when I search on Google for SRU I get Slippery Rock University. What does Google know that I don’t?

    Of course Rennie will head off at the end of June, with his deferral in his hip pocket.

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    • Surprised Dodson isn’t taking legal action against China & Wuhan for Covis-19 the impact on his pay packet.

      For goodness sake don’t give him ideas he is just stupid enough to consider it, in the name of the SRU of course, he wouldn’t risk his own dosh.

  17. I would think a salary cut would be more in keeping.
    Maybe Dodson, in keeping with other sporting icons,could donate a sum to help others in these troubled days.

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  18. Deferral – postponement of an action or event.
    So no loss to the vast sum of money Dodson receives, how on earth can this individual continue to offer so little for so much. I am still at a loss to find any substantial evidence of what Mr. Dodson does that deserves not only an over generous salary but a mind blowing bonus.
    And never any signs of articles in the main stream media questioning the goings on at Murrayfield how on earth have we the supporters ended up with an individual one step up from an Advertising Space Salesman running the SRU for ‘Loads of Money”?

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  19. All of the other union’s have taken actual cuts, SRU have “deferrals”.

    Are they working from home?

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  20. Decent stuff and hardly a shock, nice touch re offering Murrayfield albeit you would hope that would be done at this time.

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