English Premiership rugby union clubs recorded total losses of £28.5m (€31.4m/$36.7m) during the 2016-17 season, according to a new report which states the importance of revenue from stadia operations.
Ahead of the start of the 2018-19 campaign this weekend, UK newspaper The Guardian has attempted to assess the financial health of Premiership clubs by analysing the annual reports of the 12 clubs that competed during the 2016-17 campaign.
The report, which excluded Bristol Bears as it didn’t file full figures, outlined that the clubs generated total turnover of £189.1m, with £120.4m of this going on wages. Five clubs provided detailed breakdowns of their revenue sources, including matchday operations.
The 2016-17 champions, Exeter Chiefs, were one of only two clubs to turn a profit (£1.1m). This came despite only the sixth highest turnover of £17m, £1.5m of which came from its Sandy Park stadium. The Guardian noted that 10 per cent of the club’s income was generated by Sandy Park on non-match days, making the difference between profit and loss.
Gloucester generated turnover of £16m and a loss of £1.2m. Ticketing at its Kingsholm Stadium accounted for £4m of revenue; while hospitality, conferencing and events drew £2.6m; and bar sales and commission on the catering bar and shop brought in £1.1m.
Newcastle Falcons, whose accounts also included rugby league team Newcastle Thunder, recorded turnover of £9.7m for a loss before tax of £3m. Match income at its Kingston Park stadium was £1.7m, with commercial revenue of £2.7m. Newcastle stood 10th out of 12 in terms of turnover and wage bill, but The Guardian notes that it owns its own ground again with plans approved to extend the capacity at Kingston Park to nearly 12,000.
Saracens pulled in turnover of £17.8m for a loss before tax of £2.8m, with Allianz Park accounting for £5.3m of its income stream. The Guardian said the club’s purchase of its own ground, after previously playing at Vicarage Road, home of English Premier League football club Watford, has seen turnover almost double in five years, with redevelopment of one of the stands being planned.
Wasps posted the highest turnover figure of £33.4m thanks to including figures for its home ground, Ricoh Arena in Coventry, which also hosted a number of concerts during the year. This figure was broken down into £16.2m for Wasps sport income, £10.6m for business income, £1.2m for entertainment income, £2m for hotel income and £3.4m for sponsorship and venue income.
However, despite this, Wasps still recorded a loss before tax of £3.7m.