Irish Rugby's chief executive Philip Browne has warned that the economic viability of professional rugby in the country is at risk if games continued to be staged behind closed doors.
The IRFU are projecting losses in the region of 30-million Euro should the rest of this year's international games and 2021's Guinness Six Nations be staged without supporters in attendance.
Borrowings of around 11-million Euro are expected in the New Year with the union, who had a cash surplus of 28-million before the pandemic, expected to have 10-million in debts by next summer.
“Unfortunately we may have to cut costs if we don’t get people through the turnstiles and revenues do not recover and that is going to impact ultimately on our ability to maintain the structures and personnel that we have put in place," Brown told OTB Sports at a virtual press conference this afternoon.
"It is a fact of life that you cannot spend more than you earn. The worst case scenario if this goes on and on and on – which I don’t believe it will because I believe we will see some turnaround next year in terms of vaccines – but if this goes on indefinitely, you have to question whether the professional game is sustainable at all.
“That would not be unique to Ireland. There would be a similar situation across all rugby nations. We need the revenues to sustain what we are doing.”
Ireland are set to have three home games in an eight-team Autumn Nations Cup in November and Browne says while that's a help, their main priority is completing the Six Nations next month in order to release their funds from the competition.
“It is obviously a help but we need to be careful we don’t jump the gun because the matches have not happened yet. The key thing is to get those two Six Nations games played off because the balance of central funds is dependent on us completing the Six Nations championship for 2020.
“And then this autumn mini-tournament is really important as well, as the southern hemisphere countries are not in a position to travel,” added Browne in reference to the proposed eight-team Autumn Nations Cup in November and December, involving the six nations plus Georgia and Fiji. We need some revenues to meet our commitments to the broadcasters, sponsors and all the rest of it.
“At this point in time, the great shame is that it does not look like we will have spectators at those matches unless something changes in the next couple of weeks.”
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