The Welsh Rugby Union will require a fresh round of borrowing to help it survive the “extreme” aftershock of the coronavirus crisis, with the potential for longer term player wage cuts to follow.

In an open letter addressing the financial impact of the pandemic, WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips said seeking additional financial support was an unavoidable measure.

The governing body has pledged to use the new funds in three ways – to protect its planned investment into the recreational game, to push ahead with developing women’s rugby and to act as a lender to the four professional regions.

“Given the financial shock of this pandemic the only solution is to increase our borrowing,” said Phillips.

“We are working hard to secure a loan and, importantly, on terms that allows for repayment over a number of years. So, whilst the current financial hit is extreme and focused, we will look to smooth and dampen its ongoing impact through a manageable repayment profile and interest rate.

“The professional game will bear the responsibility for servicing the loan, but will also benefit from any bounce back of any financial revenue over performance in future years. Meaning, in that regard, the professional game bears both the risk and the reward. Our goal, like with our semi-professional and community clubs, is to ensure all four regions survive this crisis.”

WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips is hoping to protect the sport in Wales (David Davies/PA)
WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips is hoping to protect the sport in Wales (David Davies/PA)

An extended pay reduction for top players could be the next step, with Phillips admitting the temporary 25 per cent cut agreed early in lockdown was now being re-evaluated.

“Back in April the players agreed to temporary wage cuts to help us through the crisis, again for which we are grateful,” he said.

“We are now in further discussion, the first step of which is a responsibility of the PRB (Professional Rugby Board) to, as transparently as possible, set out the financial situation and then work together with the players to find options that both safeguard the game and also deliver to the players’ personal situations.

“There is a requirement for continued dialogue over the next few weeks to explore options and land on a way forward that works for all parties. I’m sure we can achieve this together.”


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