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Soaring costs see Scottish Rugby post £10.5m loss

Murrayfield Stadium (DB Media Services)
Ticket sales: Murrayfield Stadium

Scottish Rugby made a loss of £10.5 million despite posting record revenues of £68.3m in its latest set of financial results.

Figures for the year ending 31 May 2023 show that costs soared to £75.4m, an increase of more than £14m on the previous 12 months, contributing to the loss once ‘exceptional items’ of £2.2m, ‘depreciation and amortisation’ of £1m and ‘net interest’ of £0.2m were taken into account.

Employment costs have risen overall to £39.2m, an increase of £6.3m. The highest paid director of the group, thought to be chief executive Mark Dodson, commanded an increased salary of £676,000, compared to the previous figure of £570,000.

There are now 28 employees earning in excess of £200,000 per year – 25 players and three ‘core employees’, compared to 19 in 2022.

Figures included in the organisation’s latest annual report show that ticket sales played a major part in the strong revenue performance which was up from £57.9m on last year.

The sale of tickets totalled £23.7m, which compares favourably with the previous year’s £16.4m.

Murrayfield staged three matches in the always popular Six Nations Championship, while there were four Autumn Tests in the capital.

The stadium also hosted huge concerts with Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce and Harry Styles all performing at the home at the home of Scottish rugby, helping ‘hospitality and other income’ enjoy a significant increase of £4.5m to £7.7m.

Funds which had previously been received from private equity deals were used in a number of key areas, namely professional teams (£2.5m), women’s and girls’ rugby (£2.5m), while £2.3m was allocated as compensation for the pro teams who lost money due to Covid from the United Rugby Championship (URC).

Professor Lorne Crerar CBE, chair of Scottish Rugby Union, said: “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.”

Hilary Spence, Scottish Rugby’s chief financial officer, commented: “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.”

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