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Irish Player Costs- An analysis

Gerry Thornley, 29 April 2014 “That there is likely to be more money for players is overdue and the Irish provinces have a proven culture, sense of identity and loyalty, as well as competitiveness, which their fellow Celts would covet. They’ve defied the odds before.”

On 3 March 2014, Andy Howell, rugby correspondent of the Western Mail, supposedly Wales’ No.1 rugby journalist, claimed that the Leinster Rugby team had a budget of £4.1m, including its academy players. In the quote above, the archetypal Irish rugby journalist, Gerry Thornley, implies that Irish players stay with their provinces due to loyalty, not money. That would be true if Howell’s budget was correct.

But is Howell correct? What did he do to verify the figure given to him, presumably by Leinster.

The first thing is to layout the structure of Irish Rugby at professional level. It is entirely controlled by the Union. The IRFU own the professional teams. Munster, Ulster, Leinster & Connacht Rugby are all entities it seems who are owned 100% by the IRFU. It is those entities that operate the relevant provincial sides. There are limited companies set up that protect those names, but they are dormant. Those businesses appear to be ‘branches’ of the IRFU.

Reason for arriving at those conclusions? The IRFU accounts. These account for the competition monies for those sides, but unlike the WRU, the outgoings do not go to the four teams, but appear to be spent on players wages (of which more later).

Alongside the rugby sides there, provinces also have Branches that are owned, it seems, by their constituent clubs. The accounts of the branches are not made publically available, but are commented on in the press following AGM report. I have also had a copy of the Leinster Branch Accounts sent to me, which help enormously to understand how professional rugby in Ireland works, and crucially how much money they spend on player wages.

In terms of income, the IRFU appear to account for all the competition monies the 4 provinces get. This totals approximately €11m. The other income of the IRFU appears to derive out of the international game only. Then in schedule 3 to the accounts we are told that player and management costs come to €28.5m. This excludes academy players and coaching support staff (such as U20 coach Mike Ruddock) as they appear to be included in the costs laid out in schedule 4.

So the wage bill for pro players in Ireland is €28.5m, less say €1m for the senior side coaching team.

At the moment in Wales, RRW are asking for £10m between the 4 sides. The four Irish provinces, in 2013 (with similar figures for previous years) received approximately €16.5m over and above competition income. This does give the IRFU MORE control than RRW appear to be happy with, but it does indicate the funding difference.

The remainder of the income for the branch accounts that I have seen for Leinster, states that all other income such as provincial income and ticket monies go through the branch accounts. The Leinster turnover, even without competition monies remember, is over €12m. This is in excess of the top welsh pro team, where competition monies are included.

So if the IRFU pay the players, where does this money go? Well, it seems that the Leinster branch also pay the players (senior ones) to the tune of €2.7m. The coaching staff expense is elsewhere in the accounts.

So, if we stay with Leinster at the moment, if we say the split of the €27.5m between the four provinces is that Connacht get half the other 3. That means that Leinster get the wages of 2/7ths of €27.5m. This is approximately €7.85m. Add in the €2.7m, and you get €10.55m. Or £8.75m. Or more than double the RRW salary cap, and significantly more than the PRL clubs.

I even think it is above the French salary cap.

#foodforthought ’ndy

Conclusions:

1- The Irish provincial sides are not overperforming. They are performing on par with their funding. Maybe even below it.

2- Where the Irish are performing is income generation. The Munster branch turnover is apparently more like €17m.

3- RRW demands for £10m do not seem unreasonable.

4- RRW need to improve their income streams. The WRU should be helping them with this, not hindering them. Part of this would be to empower regions to build relationships with clubs. In Ireland, the branches award significant grants as well as the Union.

5- To make it clear, the Lenister playing wage bill is obviously not £4.1m, Andy. According to official audited accounts.

Che_Guevara

Rugby clubs of Wales unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.

The pressure on the Welsh Rugby Union continues to grow. The silence from Roger Lewis and David Pickering is deafening. Yesterday, the Welsh Rugby Union decided to cancel a meeting with Regional Rugby Wales. This was the much-trumpeted meeting between RRW and the “full board” of the WRU. So much for that. What are the WRU scared of?

In the next few days, disgruntled Welsh rugby clubs, the owners of the WRU who are the lifeblood of our national game, will be writing to the WRU to call for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM). They have had enough of the autocratic dictatorship and incompetence of our sport’s governing body.

Here’s what they’re going to be saying:

“In accordance with Clause 30 of the articles of association we hereby serve notice that we, the undersigned, request that you proceed to convene and hold an extraordinary general meeting of the Company and in accordance with the aforesaid articles, to vote on the following motion:

That the WRU have not been acting in the best interests of Welsh Rugby and in particular the 320 clubs who are the members of the WRU. Specifically the Chairman and Board of the WRU have either deliberately or by oversight allowed the following to occur:

  1. The CEO and the Executive to confirm the Leagues for season 2014/15. The new league structure was decided with no direct input from clubs. In recent meetings with the Districts the WRU was informed that the new league structure was unacceptable. The Executive have ignored the clubs and have not provided a viable alternative. To date clubs have not been directly informed by the WRU of their intentions
  2. The CEO and Executive to continue paying down debt at a rate that is detrimental to the clubs.
  3. The CEO and Executive to allow the cost of tickets and management of the ticketing office to spiral out of control.
  4. The CEO and Executive to operate without a proper business and strategic plan that has been communicated in full to all stakeholders.
  5. The CEO and Executive to withhold urgently needed funding to all levels of the game despite reporting £11million in Reserves in FY2013.
  6. Despite a promise from the Chairman, CEO and President to provide the facts to contradict a ‘scurrilous’ and inaccurate financial expose by a former WRU Group CEO David Moffett, they have not done so.
  7. Since 2007 the CEO and Executive have failed to recognise the urgent need to evolve the Professional, Semi Professional and Community games in line with best practice.
  8. The Board, have themselves, not followed best practice as recommended by the UK Government and the Board of WRU is not fit for purpose.
  9. Despite a document entitled A Manifesto for Change provided to all clubs by former WRU Group CEO, David Moffett, and numerous attempts by him to contact the Chairman, the WRU has ignored its existence whilst belatedly announcing identical strategies many weeks after its release.

We demand that at the EGM the WRU Chairman answer these and related questions. Further, we would like you to note that Mr David Moffett will be present at the EGM and will be presenting the case for a vote of no confidence on our behalf.

At the end of the meeting we will call for a vote of NO CONFIDENCE in the Chairman and Board of the WRU [and Millennium Stadium] if, in the opinion of the members present they do not provide honest and truthful and/or acceptable answers to these questions.

If such a vote is called for and successful, the members will proceed to install an Interim Board in accordance with Article 56 of the Company’s articles of association to manage the WRU’s affairs until the members are able to elect a new Board.”