SRU announce wage cuts in response to coronavirus crisis

Staff, including players, earning over £50,000 a year will be subject to cuts on a sliding scale from 10 percent up to 25 percent

SRU Chairman Colin Grassie and Chief Executive Mark Dodson sent emails to staff this morning updating on the organisation's response to the coronavirus crisis. Image: FOTOSPORT/DAVID GIBSON
SRU Chairman Colin Grassie and Chief Executive Mark Dodson sent emails to staff this morning updating on the organisation's response to the coronavirus crisis. Image: FOTOSPORT/DAVID GIBSON

THE Scottish Rugby Union have announced cuts in salaries for earners over £50,000, plus plans to furlough as many as 75 percent of the 450 staff, as a belated response to the coronavirus crisis.

The governing body’s initial reaction to the lockdown, which has halted all rugby activity for the foreseeable future, was to announce that the Board and leading coaches were taking salary deferrals to run from 1st April to 1st September. However, as the full scope of the crisis has become apparent, a more radical response became necessary. The doomsday scenario would be if Scotland’s Autumn Tests against Argentina, Japan and New Zealand are not able to go ahead, which would cost the SRU in excess of £12 million in income [around 20 percent of total turnover].

Discussions with the players – who collectively account for the lion’s share of the SRU’s salary expenditure – have been ongoing over the last fortnight before reaching a sudden conclusion this morning.

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The new proposal will see 10 percent wage cuts over a five-month period for all staff earning between £50,000 and £75,000 per year, 15 percent cuts for those earning up to £100,000, a 20 percent cut for those earning up to £200,000, and a 25 percent for those earning more than that. It is understood that around three-quarters of the players on SRU contracts are in the below £100,000 bracket.

In Wales, players are facing 25 percent wage cuts across the board for anyone earning over £25,000 per year, although this is initially only for the next three months.

Under the new arrangement, chief executive Mark Dodson’s 30 percent wage deferral until September has been turned into a wage-cut, which works out as about £56,875 of his £455,000 basic salary. His fellow board members have now taken 25 percent cuts (as opposed to deferrals) in their salaries/fees.

All four executive directors – Dodson, chief operating officer Dominic McKay, general counsel Robert Howat and chief financial officer Andrew Healy – have also given up their bonus entitlements for this year.

While Scotland were fortunate that both of their home Six Nations matches this season went ahead before the lockdown, the early close to the domestic season, the likelihood that there will be no merchandising and television revenue from the summer tour to South Africa and New Zealand, and the fact that Murrayfield cannot be ‘sweated’ for non-rugby related events means that the business now faces a period of significant strain.

“Our income streams are being badly affected as match day receipts and other revenues from the likes of PRO14 and EPCR fixtures and activity that might otherwise be taking place at BT Murrayfield are interrupted,” said Dodson, in a letter issued to clubs and posted on the SRU website this afternoon.

“Like many we hope the professional game season can be completed, but have no guarantee that even a truncated end to any of the competitions will happen.

“As it now stands it would appear very unlikely the annual Summer Tours to the Southern Hemisphere will take place. This has a further impact on our income.

“There is also developing uncertainty on when Scottish Rugby might be able to put Autumn Test tickets on sale, and indeed if these games will go ahead as originally planned.

“The significant ticket revenue from these games would normally come into Scottish Rugby during the summer. With wider social uncertainty we also don’t want to place a burden on our supporters at this time, given the challenging circumstances everyone finds themselves in.”

“If the Autumn Tests were to be cancelled, then we face a further loss of expected revenue well in excess of £12 million. We have to assume that any league or tournament rugby would also then be unable to take place for a period, exacerbating the loss of income.

Despite all these concerns, Dodson stressed that “around 75% of all Scottish Rugby’s people will be unaffected by these changes and have their salaries maintained”.

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About David Barnes 4026 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. Chris seems now to have revealed himself as a pointless troll.

    I’m sure Mr Dodson is happy for his support.

    Meanwhile in the real world ….

  2. Chris

    You should contact Barney and provide an article for publication.

    Im sure it would be enlightening – what a stellar job MD does; Colin Grassie the Chairs Chair; the reasons all those club guys have got it wrong; dont you know there’s a war on etc

    But then you would have to disclose your real name and that might spike your fun

    • @Dom, the work of the offside line is for the most part work I find pretty fascinating, some of the comments that follow the article…. it’s parody stuff i,e staff cut salary…. “aye but how can I get Keith Russell mentioned here”…. it’s predictable stuff and a bit tedious.

      The articles are pretty well educated, most of the follow on comments aren’t i.e George Haley is just moon howling stuff.

      I don’t really know what use my full name is to you either way, bit odd to even mention it to be honest or care who I am, far more important things in the world than bothering about who people are in the internet lad….

  3. At 6.45pm on the 14th ‘Chris’ made comment along the lines of, ‘Deferment initially progressing to Reduction of wages’ was not something that caused him ‘anger’.
    That in isolation is not an unreasonable position to hold, however if you consider the following Chris you may just appreciate why criticism of Dodson and others at the SRU would seem appropriate not only from Journalists in Rugby and other Media, but those who wish to make similar comment.
    Consider if you will the following:-
    The Russell fiasco, the Tribunal that opined a vigorous condemnation of the SRU in that Dodson [Its that man again] and Hewitt acted in a manner that was “both procedurally and substantively unfair”, that seems a fairly clear demerit to me.

    A Cavalier attitude toward employees that seemed to have been exemplified with the rather off hand dismissal of Vern Cotter, in my opinion that is, if others have a similar view I would not be surprised.

    Dodson’s not particularly intelligent threat to sue the World Rugby Organisers in what would appear to be a repetition of his arrogant and oppressive management style that led to a £70k fine for the SRU rather than Dodson himself who showed little contrition about that or the dismissal of Russell or Cotter.

    The list although not endless paints a picture in my mind of a bombastic attitude toward the position he holds having been ‘released’ from his former position as Chief Executive of MEN Media when the company was taken over, a reasonable sign that the new owners were not impressed by his track Record. Even the local MP questioned Dodson’s continued throwing good money after bad on the local Tv. Channel that after several years was a failure, there again just like the World Cup threat, it wasn’t Dodson’s money at risk.
    For that and many other reasons I personally admit openly and without hesitation, I don’t like the way he appears to operate, deals with employees or his judgement that leaves much to be desired on £455,000 + Bonus that he has engineered for himself, hope that adds clarity to my desperate search along with others on this forum for a ‘thumbs up’ for my opinions, after all you seem particularly comfortable with the opposite approbation for yours.

      • Chris, we welcome varying opinions and vigorous debate in The Offside Line’s comments sections, but if it is going to be childishly scornful of other posters without making any sort of meaningful contribution to the discussion then we are perfectly prepared to delete the comment and block the commenter.

    • I assume then comments including such terms as “Dodo”, referencing people as “buffoons” and simply labeling people employees of the SRU because they think differently will also be removed? Or is the policy fair game to say what you want on such things? As if it not that seems a pretty selective?

    • Does that policy apply to all? i.e is it seen as acceptable to use petulant nicknames (Dodo), buffons etc as terms as long as people don’t contribute or is the water mark higher than that and really posts simply including that language should be removed across the board?

  4. SRU boo hiss. Dodson boo hiss. Salaries are too much, greedy, trough, lining pockets. Clubs good, SRU bad. And so on and so on.

    Unfortunately given the general level of journalism on this site the overall agenda and the comments on most articles are absolutely toxic bilge.

    Am oot. Imagine TOL will continue to only attract and retain the moaners bereft of any awareness of a picture bigger than themselves which is unfortunate given the empty niche in Scottish rugby coverage.

    • Jamco – there is only so much money to go around.

      It will seem a criticism when the top earners in the SRU are paid salaries that are disproportionate for similar jobs, whilst clubs below the Super Duper 6 have metaphorically been given a two fingered salute.

      That you, or I, have been given an opportunity on here to give our opinion is something the SRU will never do.

    • Perhaps your point of view would be given more credence if you put your name to it, there’s nothing to be ashamed of having a differing point of view, even toxic ones, however pocketing £455k plus a bonus that takes it up to a £million as near makes no difference offers itself up as a rather toxic subject, so you managed to get one thing correct.

    • HOUSE, you got them all!

      @George Haley reckons the comments on here change the world, all 15/16 of the same names giving each other a wee thumbs up.

  5. ‘However, as the full scope of the crisis has become apparent, a more radical response became necessary’.
    Ha Ha Ha: don’t make me laugh!
    I hope the moderator will permit me to say that comment emanating no doubt from the SRU is Bullsh1t.
    The plaudits for this volte-face should not be directed towards Dodson or Murrayfield Suits rather the critical articles in the Offsideline and other Media and not least the comment sections to those articles.
    However this is not the time to sit back in reflected glory at the winning of this ‘skirmish’ with Dodson and Co. it’s time to keep the pressure up to ensure that going forward Scottish Rugby, its Clubs and Supporters get the management they deserve rather than the cosy little Politburo that currently struggles to exist without justifiable criticism.

    • If they had done that (they didn’t) it would have likely taken a change in situation i.e the Pro 14 was resuming and Corona a medication had been found for Corona…..sadly that hasn’t happened are you are really just inventing a scenario because it seems you simply can’t just take it as accepted that this event doesn’t particularly anger me – i.e the decision to first defer and then give up salary based on most likely changing circumstances.

      I am not really applauding this simply likely appears that way to you as I am not being overly critical of people giving up their wages to help others during a Pandemic….rrrr boooo hissss etc and so on…..if that helps.

    • Chris – good of you to add your insight here.

      If I could see trouble ahead with the deferral “strategy” those business titans at Murrayfield should have been on the case a couple of weeks ago.

      And only now executing a furlough. What were all those 400 odd employees doing for the last month?

      You are right. This is a rapidly moving situation. It requires nimbleness of decision making we haven’t seen previously. When your revenue has reduced to a trickle rather more radical action is needed. That was the case two weeks ago when the deferrals were announced.

      Good to see they have finally caught up

    • They were on the case…. it was stated in the original statement it was under review…. who can know what information has been give to the SRU since then….. expected loss since then has most likely changed.

      Originally it was possibly being advised re when the Pro 14 could resume, when tours would go ahead, if the AI would go ahead, who is to know if that news has since changed, in the nicest way possible not you, you can think you knew but the SRU, and other Unions will be involved in consultancy where actual things are being said re what will actually be, or not be happening rather than what people think might happen.

      It was never at the time set in stone.

    • IF the SRU were in consultation with other Unions explain why some other Unions immediately announced a pay cut as opposed to the Murrayfield deferment?
      Just a thought.

    • Yeah, that’s not entirely (at all) correct – the Union they are closest linked to holistically in terms of where they sit in terms of the league they play in etc is Ireland who announced a pretty comparable stance as Scotland originally…

      Wales while also a Pro14 side have had a business model driven by stadium use which has been stripped from them – so not the best comparison of busies.

      What England done is irrelevant given their structure of business.

      The likes of Australia were in trouble before all of this.

    • Yeah, that’s not true…. the Union they are closest linked to holistically in terms of where they sit in terms of the league they play in etc is Ireland who announced a pretty comparable stance as Scotland originally…

      “These deferrals, based on an equitable sliding scale which ranges from 10% – 50%, will be effective from April, and beyond if required, but will remain subject to constant review of the financial circumstances of the IRFU and Provinces”

      Their words….. not mine.
      Wales while also a Pro14 side have had a business model driven by stadium use which has been stripped from them – so not the best comparison of busies.

      What England done is irrelevant given their structure of business.

      The likes of Australia were in trouble before all of this.

    • So following your logic Chris if the SRU had announced salary cuts two weeks ago and came back with salary deferrals this week thats OK?

      Whats been obvious for some time is the SRU are terrible at crisis comms (copyright Russell Affair). When in a crisis its wise to go big and back down rather than small and scale up.

      The furlough decision should have been made quickly. Though as I understand it it can be back dated to 1st March

      If you could pass round the Koolaid you are drinking (with suitable disinfecting) we can all get with the programme and applaud madly at everything they do.

    • Agreed, although they must have some of the worst PR advisers going. Great news that the lowest paid are getting their furlough payments topped up, say what you want about the SRU but a lot of businesses, including sports team will be taking the easy here.

  6. They’ve obviously never slept at night since their Horlicks decision.
    The backlash they received was fully justified in my opinion.
    Things up at Murrayfield need a huge shake up cos this lots only in it to line their pockets

  7. Delighted to see that have seen sense.
    The annual salary they more than enough. They is no need gor any of them to receive any bonus. Maybe the council can one who employs the super 6 player.

  8. Dodo – you’ve got laugh at him haven’t you.

    All this should have been resolved from the outset, what exactly does he do day to day – sat in his office counting his salary?

    As for himself and the other self serving cronies…………too little too late.

    • What you have said doesn’t really make sense re too little too late….. but why let a lil old agenda getting in the way eh….

    • Chris – re: too little too late, you think it doesn’t make sense.

      Let me expand on my original comments – not that I should need to.

      1. The uncertainty surrounding the viability of clubs.

      2. The unjust (in some quarters) decisions on promotion/relegation.

      3. The original deferral of salary issue.

      You’d expect the head of ‘The Game’ to be at the forefront of the above. I haven’t seen any leadership from Dodo or his bunch of self serving colleagues.

      So that they have realised all too little too late that leadership of the Scottish Game (not just the Pro/Semi pro Leagues) is down to them.

      I don’t think Dodo could walk (or use a chauffeured SRU company vehicle) around Edinburgh announcing the players/staff reductions and keep his full salary.

      Again he could have led on that originally and then announce the player reductions once all parties were notified.

      Leading by example is a rarity nowadays and certainly within the SRU boardroom, extinct.

      SRU Board have shown nothing short of self serving protectionism and will do so again, again and again.

    • What sport at this moment doesn’t have uncertainty around it’s viability? EPL sides with their revenue are talking about their viability.

      The decision re relegation was handled in a cleaner fashion than football are likely to manage…. there was no scenario where everyone was leaving that one happy, ripping the plaster and committing to a decision seems as clean a way out of it as any – and that was one made early, not late.

      The original deferral was one which was again, that really important detail “under review” the situation is constantly changing, chances are another statement will needed re the salary of employees.

      At the minute I would expect a CEO of a sporting business to adapt and change as the situation changes, to me it seems that is what Scotland are doing here.

      There isn’t a rule book written on this one…. it’s a pretty new and unprecedented situation to folks, who would have knew so many on here were such experts when it comes to dealing with a sporting institution during a Pandemic, should give a few teams a call and help them out as a load of them are really struggling with all of this.

    • Chris.

      This is the SRU and Rugby not football and what is applicable in one sport may not be in another.

      That it is changing situation is obvious and Covid 19 a rarity, hopefully.

      However that doesn’t change the situation. This, as ever with the SRU was handled badly. I still maintain that a CEO should be expected to LEAD. So rather than deferral there was two good options:

      1. Announce a review, consult relevant parties.
      2. Review complete, then announce the salary reductions across the board.

      Quite simple and in making the second choice originally and swiftly doesn’t make them look like selfish buffoons.

      Once Dodo and his crew announced deferrals (and patted themselves on the back for such chivalry) seen the backlash in the media surrounding deferrals and furlough across many rich companies it seems the SRU Board have acted…!!

      Similar to the World Cup legal issue they have come out of this looking like idiots not leaders.

    • You have contradicted your own point though, it is a changing situation so situations will change because of that….

      At the time of the announcement of deferral that likely was a viable option that has since changed. It will likely change again.

      To state they have come out of it looking like “idiots” is a bit far fetched, you just seem to be filled with an internet driven fueled seethe for the sake of getting a wee click of a thumb, it is quite sad to read.

    • Good luck with your new job in the SRU PR department Chris!

      Sadly you’ve not made a very competent start.

    • Chris, you are either:

      A) Dodo himself.
      B) In the employ of Dodo.

      I’ll take a bet and judged on Dodo’s current tenure the SRU for all their riches, will do nothing for the game in the next 5 years.

      There is a total lack of EFFECTIVE leadership from the SRU.

      As for your last sentence…………well words fail me.

      Though childish maybe near the target.

    • It’s C actually: not tragically looking for a wee thumbs up on a comments section by spraffing out OFL angry bingo comments.

      We are living during a pandemic when the sport of Rugby alone, just Rugby in this country, could feasibly loose the best part of 12 million (at least), congrats on the prediction the sport might be left in a state for a few years after that Mystic Meg, quite the spot there….no one had ever even thought of that up till you said that….what other predictions do you have on the back of this Pandemic….

      You feel it is needed to call someone “Dodo” yet aren’t savvy enough to take a step back and then realise the ironic hilarity when you attempt to say anything anyone has to say on this subject is “childish”……..LOLZ……

      THUMS UP!

    • Believe their max salary is something in the low teens so the furlough scheme will cover them for 80% with the SRU topping up.

    • I think the max is £12 k with the majority on £3/4K I would imagine most would be furloughed with the club topping up the salary, this would make sense but I have no knowledge of what the clubs are doing.

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