SCOTTISH RUGBY has reported its highest ever revenues for the year up to 31st May 2023 of £68.3m, up from £57.9m in (Covid-impacted) 2022, with the previous all-time high being £61.1m in 2019. However, costs in the last year were a concerning £75.4m, up from £61.1m last year and £60.5m in 2019. That means the Annual Report issued earlier today reveals a loss for the business of £10.5m (once ‘Exceptional Items’ of -£2.2m, ‘Depreciation and Amortisation’ of -£1m and ‘Net Interest’ of +£0.2m is taken into account).
The big driver in the revenue growth was ticket sales, which jumped from £16.4m to £23.7m, largely thanks to three sell-out home matches in the Six Nations and four home Autumn Tests against high profile opposition. Similarly, the busy events calendar in May which saw Beyonce, Harry Styles and Bruce Springsteen play four nights over two weeks at Murrayfield helped ‘Hospitality and Other Income’ rise from £3.2m to £7.7m. Broadcast Revenues, Commercial Income, Professional Rugby and Development Income & Grants were all down on last year.
Meanwhile, £7.3m of expenditure was utilisation of strategic funds previously received from private equity deals consisting of £2.5m invested into Womens and Girls Rugby, £2.5m into the professional teams and £2.3m used to compensate the professional teams for the loss of revenue from URC through the Covid pandemic.
Overall employment costs have risen £6.3m from £32.9m to £39.2m.
The highest paid Director of the Group [believed to be Chief Executive Mark Dodson] received aggregate emoluments of £676k, up from £570k last year.
“There was no change in the highest paid director’s underlying remuneration entitlement during the year,” explained the Annual Report. “The difference between the figures quoted for 2021/22 and 2022/23 is due to an accrual for accounting reasons to provide towards a contractual payment which is due when the director’s service contract ends. Payment of an equivalent amount which was due to that director from the Long Term Incentive Plan that was in place in 2018/19 and which was terminated during the Covid-19 pandemic, was deferred voluntarily by that director at that time.”
The average number of employees jumped from 445 to 479 in the last year, with a rise from 123 to 144 on the playing side, as well as seven new members of staff in the High Performance Rugby department (90 to 97), three new members of staff in the Rugby Development department (49 to 52) and five new members of staff in the Commercial Operations department.
The number of employees earning £200k+ has risen from 19 (15 coaches/players and four ‘core employees’) in 2022, to 28 (25 players and three ‘core employees) in 2023.
Despite the increase in head count, Scottish Rugby spent £659k on ‘redundancy and restructuring’, while a further £364k in exceptional spend relates to “one-off costs incurred by Scottish Rugby Limited to set up the legal, tax and accounting processes and procedures required to establish the new governance structures for the Scottish Rugby Union”.
“This spend also takes into account the fact-finding exercise established in August 2022 which reviewed the medical care provision provided to 19-cap Scotland international Siobhan Cattigan, who tragically passed in November 2021,” said the report. “The exercise saw 48 people contribute to provide their experiences on this matter, which were then collated and presented to the SRL and SRU boards in summer 2023.”
“The Scottish Rugby Union’s own accounts show a one-off cost of £450k which was incurred to establish its new governance board, recruitment for the Board’s membership and respective operating functions. On-going costs to support the functions of the SRU are estimated at £175k per year.”
The report also states that: “Investment in Scotland’s community game was consistent and grew circa £876K in terms of support provided by Scottish Rugby’s Rugby Development Department and through cash available to clubs directly via Club Support Funds ring-fenced for sustainability and participation projects.” This appears to be a very different view on ‘strategic support’ compared to the here and now approach for funding the pro teams.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to presenting these accounts which for the first time sees the Scottish Rugby Union in place to provide its oversight and custodian role in support of the Scottish Rugby Limited’s operations,” said Professor Lorne Crerar CBE, Chair of Scottish Rugby Union.
“It is clear rugby is not immune from the difficult economic landscape every other business has had to navigate, which therefore makes the record revenue figure achieved in our last financial year something to be applauded and acknowledged.
“We are fortunate to have the ability to invest our private equity income to underpin key strategic areas and while our deficit cannot be ignored I have confidence in the Scottish Rugby Limited Board to be assessing our financial position and acting accordingly.”
Scottish Rugby CEO, Mark Dodson, said: “Scottish Rugby Limited’s record revenues for the last financial year reflect the hard work delivered by our people both on and off the pitch. On the pitch our national Scotland men’s team delivered its highest placing in the Six Nations which was achieved in front of sell-out crowds at Scottish Gas Murrayfield, demonstrating the importance of the team performing to our financial well-being.
“Off the pitch, the executive and all our people have worked tirelessly to secure commercial investment, manage cost and steer the organisation through a difficult economic market.
“The ability to draw on our private equity income to invest in key strategic areas is also to be welcomed and a testament to the vision and ambition which drove it being secured with our partners in the United Rugby Championship and Six Nations over recent years.”
Scottish Rugby’s Chief Financial Officer, Hilary Spence, said: “The performance of the core business, in the form of Scottish Rugby Limited’s finances, against the backdrop of a hyper-inflationary environment is pleasing.
“Record revenues are enabling us to face the cost and structural challenges we meet, combined with the income received over the last three years from private equity which allows us to make some necessary strategic investments. However, given the tough economic landscape we are operating in, the business will need to keep evolving and adapt if it is to be able to continue to invest in our key assets of community rugby, our professional male and female players and our stadium.”
- To view the Annual Report, click HERE.