The IRFU has a run deficit of over €35 million last year according to the annual report published today, with the coronavirus pandemic a significant factor in the losses.
The organisation suffered a loss in gate receipts to the tune of almost €6 million between the postponement of the Italy Six Nations game and losing the November series due to the Rugby World Cup.
"Unless there is a return to some level of normality within the next 12 months, the IRFU and the Provinces will have to drastically cut their budgets to ensure costs are covered by the lower revenues"
This line from Philip Browne in the IRFU's annual report is pretty chilling
— Rúaidhrí O'Connor (@RuaidhriOC) October 23, 2020
IRFU Chief Executive, Philip Browne, thinks the impact of the pandemic will continue to be felt into the future.
"It is no surprise that Irish Rugby has experienced one of its worst financial years ever," Browne said.
"COVID-19 will continue to challenge us all until a vaccine is available and we are very grateful to the government, our sponsors and our patrons for continuing to stand with us at a time where we are unable to fill the Aviva Stadium with our fantastic fans.
"At a time of despair for many, sport can provide a welcome distraction to the reality of our situation. Over the coming weeks our Women and Men will pull on the green jersey to represent us all, and in doing so will give many of us all a welcome lift out of the doom and gloom of Covid-19, even if just for a short while."
IRFU 'drastic' budget cuts
Brown laid out how until the pandemic hit, the IRFU were in a strong position financially.
"From an IRFU perspective our finances were tracking according to budget and there had been a
successful launch and sale of over 5,000 ten-year premium seats. The IRFU’s financial situation was
looking quite positive.
"That situation has changed dramatically and the IRFU is facing an unprecedented cash flow crisis as we try to work towards the objectives of preserving our national teams and four professional provincial teams, ensuring that we preserve the amateur club game and that we protect our employees and their jobs to the extent that we can."
Browne warned about "drastic" budgets cut being necessary if the pressure on finances due to the pandemic continues.
"Whilst the provinces and the IRFU are currently solvent, that ultimately is a time-limited situation and
unless there is a return to some level of normality within the next 12 months, with matches being
played in front of some reasonable level of paying spectators.
"The IRFU and the Provinces will have to drastically cut their budgets to ensure costs are covered by the lower revenues."
Full Annual Report available here.
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