Back in those unheady days of the Autumn rugby internationals, Sky Sports carried an interview with Martin Johnson in which the big man laid waste to the notion that Andy Robinson was solely responsible for
Take Johnno at his word and have a look at just what the top echelon of the RFU’s 447 salaried staff has been up to while England have disappeared down the plug hole. How have they responded?
For one thing, they made it impossible to sack Andy Robinson and replace him with anyone whose CV had anything better than ‘won Allied
What about Chief Executive Baron himself? Has he registered how bad the situation has become? Certainly. In the RFU’s 2006 Annual Report, after the bufterish “didn’t we all do well” sections by the President and Chairman (whose job it is to make sure that the Gentleman’s Relish is spread evenly on the toast in the committee boxes at home games), England’s CEO got straight to the heart of the issue: the poor performance of the England team over the last two years was the principal reason for last year’s £1.7m pre-tax loss.
The only problem with Baron’s analysis is that it’s wildly inaccurate. Not to imply that Baron is lying – he could well have as good a handle on figures as the
This is the way it stacks up: turnover was down just £3.9m in 2006 to £82.7m. Costs were up slightly. But operating profit was still well in the black at £16.2m. That’s a highly respectable profit margin of 19.6%. So how could the RFU achieve an impressive net loss of £3.4 million?
Cherchez le huge stand, hotel and conference centre development. This cost £39.2m. £21.6m was raised from selling debentures but, as no other sources of finance were used to fund development, £17.6m had to be found from somewhere. The only other source of cash to tap was the £31.3m of operating income.
In other words, the RFU have taken the huge profits from its main business – rugby – and used them to get into another business – hotels and event management. They’re pushing their rugby business into the red to do so. Read Francis Baron’s diagnosis again. Sound accurate?
Put this into the context of the key issue in the Way Forward inquiry, player release from club to country. In football terms, £18 million is close to what Craig Bellamy spends on golf clubs every 6 months. But in rugby terms, it’s a fortune. Brian O’Driscoll is reputed to be on €400,000 a year, and he’s good. But even the average
Hotels it is, then.