Message from Scottish Rugby – coronavirus actions

16 April 2020

Introduction – Scottish Rugby President, Dee Bradbury

May I offer you and your families the very best of wishes at these most unprecedented times. I hope you managed to enjoy some time together as a family this Easter weekend either in person or through calls. The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting every area of life and rugby is of course no exception. I therefore wanted to share this update from the Chief Executive Mark Dodson on the current decisions being taken by Scottish Rugby to navigate our sport through the challenges it faces. 

Scottish Rugby update – Mark Dodson, Chief Executive 

To follow Dee’s sentiments, I hope you and your loved ones are coping well at this difficult time and staying safe. As a sport, a rugby community and as an organisation we will need each other in the coming months as we work together to ensure we can come out of the COVID-19 crisis positively.

We are all aware of the challenges rugby is facing as a result of Coronavirus at home and abroad. 

Our clubs are the bedrock of our sport and that is why one of our first actions was to introduce both the Club Hardship Fund and bring forward Club Support payments to April to provide you with the reassurance of improved cash flow and wider financial support.

We will continue do what we can to support you through these unprecedented times.

I want to explain the overall situation that Scottish Rugby faces now that the sport is closed down by the Coronavirus restrictions nationally and internationally.

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.  

We hope that 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 that 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 we might be able to put Autumn Test tickets on sale, and indeed if these games will go ahead as originally planned, when we are due to play Argentina, Japan and New Zealand in November. 

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. 

To prepare ourselves for those potential financial scenarios the following decisions have been made by the Board:

1. We have as a Board agreed to cut our fees by 25% until at least 1 September.

2. I have volunteered to cut my salary by 30% until at least 1 September and this has been accepted by the Board.

3. Executive Directors have also volunteered to cut their salaries by 25% until at least 1 September and this has been accepted by the Board.

4. Myself and my fellow Executive Directors have additionally volunteered to waive annual bonus entitlements for the financial year 2019/2020

5. We are taking forward proposals to furlough a proportion of our staff in line with the Government scheme and aligned with other companies across the UK.  

6. Scottish Rugby will consult with all players and identified staff on a salary reduction programme focused on our higher earning employees and players. 

NB – around 75% of all Scottish Rugby’s people will be unaffected by these changes and have their salaries maintained.

I am proud to lead an organisation which employs more than 450 people, of whom 157 are contracted professional male and female players. 

Our players and our coaches cannot fulfil any fixtures and the money we normally expect to make from the professional and international game at this time of the year and over the summer has all but disappeared due to the challenges beyond our control. 

No one knows with any certainty when any rugby can resume. So Scottish Rugby, through these Club Communications, will be in touch with you regularly, and we will  continue to keep you updated as to the latest developments. 

We have seen many, many examples of our staff, clubs and players across the country supporting their local communities and demonstrating rugby’s values in daily life. 

Rugby makes a positive contribution to society and it is this positivity and our whole sport working collectively that will give us the best opportunity to come through this crisis, safely, together.

With best wishes and please stay safe and healthy. 

Mark Dodson