KSA Shark ©

Two clubs could face Premiership axe

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news on 15 Dec 2008 at 08:24
Tagged with :

English rugby is anticipating the prospect of losing two sides from the Guinness Premiership as clubs struggle to remain afloat in the economic downturn.

Paul Ackford writes for the Telegraph that at a meeting involving club owners and chairmen, which took place two weeks ago, a number of scenarios, including a 10-team league to begin as early as next season, were discussed.

Bristol, currently bottom of the Premiership, are most at risk, and face having to find an additional £1 million to pay players’ wages by early January.

Earlier this season, Richard Hill, Bristol’s director of rugby, admitted publicly that he did not have the funds to spend up to the salary cap. That situation has now worsened appreciably because a number of Bristol’s directors, some of whose wealth is directly linked to the property markets, have indicated that they are no longer able to provide further funding.

Newcastle are also strapped for cash. Chairman Dave Thompson recently brokered a deal which saw ownership of Kingston Park, Newcastle’s ground, pass from Northern Rock to Northumbria University, but many senior figures inside the sport are convinced that Newcastle’s dismal attendances, an average of just over 5,000 per home game, are not enough to sustain the continued existence of the club.

“Everything is very much up in the air,” confirmed Tony Copsey, Wasps’ chief executive. “It is no secret that Bristol are struggling and there are lots of rumours about Newcastle. The fact is that the vast majority of rugby clubs are reliant on shareholder capital for cash flow and that is not the ideal way to run a business.”

Even the successful clubs are finding the current trading conditions difficult.

Wasps, the Premiership champions, declared a loss of £2.8 million during their last financial cycle and will shortly announce a further shortfall of around £2 million. Bath are another club to post a deficit. “We lost £375,000 in the last financial year, but we are committed to spend up to the salary cap next year,” said chief executive Bob Calleja. “The good news for us is that we have managed to keep attendances up. That has been crucial. I know some clubs are struggling with their attendances and that has a knock-on effect on sponsorship and corporate hospitality revenue.”

Despite bullish talk by Premier Rugby, the umbrella organisation which represents England’s 12 senior clubs, the picture at Premiership matches is mixed. While Harlequins are hoping to attract a record 50,000 fans for their league game with Leicester at Twickenham on Dec 27, attendances across the board fell by 14 per cent for the last round of Premiership fixtures, and only six of the teams in the league are averaging more than 10,000 supporters per game. Newcastle are the least well supported, attracting on average 5,298 to their home games, with Bristol coaxing a disappointing 7,776 through the turnstiles.

“It’s fairly common knowledge that one or two clubs are finding it difficult,” said Mark Evans, Harlequins’ chief executive. “Rugby union cannot expect to be immune from what is happening in the wider world and new models tend to be discussed in changing circumstances. We’re at the stage where we don’t know the extent of the downturn. I’m not at all surprised that we’re starting to have some chatter about a 10-man league. When financial pressure comes, there’s always talk of reorganisation.”

The worsening economic situation is even affecting Leicester, the most financially robust club in the league with regular attendances topping 17,000. The Tigers have seen the company which prints their match programmes go bust and Caterpillar, a prominent sponsor, is also shedding jobs. “If I were a player and somebody offered me a new contract, I wouldn’t go around saying, ‘You’ve got to pay me an extra £20,000.’ I’d sign it like a shot tomorrow because I suspect we’ve seen salaries hit their peak,” said Leicester chairman Peter Tom.

Ironically, Martin Johnson’s England may be a beneficiary of the present troubles. One initiative doing the rounds proposes that Premier Rugby and the Rugby Football Union renegotiate the eight-year agreement which only came into force on July 1. In exchange for a 10-team league which would ease fixture congestion and prevent player burn-out, the RFU would dispense with relegation and promotion to the top flight. This would save clubs the collective cost of the parachute payment paid to the relegated team, as well as enabling them to develop cheaper home-grown talent rather than buying in expensive imports to avoid the drop. Johnson would also eventually benefit from having more England-qualified players to choose from, a factor, according to some in the RFU, which is behind England’s precipitous decline.


  • Interesting read.

    I would be keen to see if it decreases the number of foreign players in Europe.

    I would suspect not, coz just as they would be tightening their belts the SH unions will be tightening theirs as well.

  • Comment 1, posted at 15.12.08 08:34:58 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • 2 weeks to go and 40,000 tickets sold
    12 December 2008, 5:32 pm
    By Roland Mercer

    Quins are delighted that, after announcing 30,000 tickets had been sold for The Big Game just 10 days ago, they have already surpassed the 40,000 mark.
    With tickets quickly heading towards the 50,000 licensed capacity for the day, and with only two weeks left until the game between Harlequins and Leicester Tigers (which takes place at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 27th December, kick off 4pm), Quins cannot guarantee that there will be tickets available on the day of the match and we strongly advise that you buy your tickets now!
    Tickets for The Big Game are the ideal Christmas present for all the family, and with tickets starting at just £10 for adults and £5 for children, we can guarantee you great value for money at a quality sporting day out.

    Tickets are only available via Ticketmaster, unless you are a season ticket holder, in which case tickets can be purchased from the Harlequins Ticket Office. TICKETMASTER can be contacted on 0844 847 2492 or online at http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk.

    Doesn’t really seem like there is to much of an attendance issue?

  • Comment 2, posted at 15.12.08 10:09:24 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • ksa can u please email me the SW webmail link to claytonsaville at gmail dot com.

  • Comment 3, posted at 15.12.08 10:11:37 by PJLD Reply
  • @PJLD (Comment 3) :

    No can do. 🙁 It uses Gmail as a client.

    sign in to MSN and i’ll explain.

  • Comment 4, posted at 15.12.08 10:22:27 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • Good less poaching of our players…. don’t believe the South African franchises will suffer anywhere as much as these clubs…. and those attendance figures,5000 per match. Some KZN schools get more people at their matches then that.

  • Comment 5, posted at 15.12.08 10:26:34 by Dive Pass Reply
    Dive Pass
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 4) :shoit.im on my föne dude.today is last day to hand in media forms at wprugby and the only day im able to go to newlands to hand the anm in.Needed an email from my account.oh well thats that then.

  • Comment 6, posted at 15.12.08 10:29:09 by PJLD Reply
  • @PJLD (Comment 3) : http://webmail.sharksworld.co.za 🙂

  • Comment 7, posted at 15.12.08 10:35:29 by robdylan Reply
  • 10,000 supporters probably doesn’t even cover 1 top player’s salary.

    Read in the paper this morning Nick Evans is supposedly on £320,000 a year at Quins.

  • Comment 8, posted at 15.12.08 10:53:51 by McLovin Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 7) : shotalot

  • Comment 9, posted at 15.12.08 10:56:05 by PJLD Reply
  • @PJLD (Comment 9) : you in?

  • Comment 10, posted at 15.12.08 11:01:11 by robdylan Reply
  • as we type

  • Comment 11, posted at 15.12.08 11:07:58 by PJLD Reply
  • @PJLD (Comment 11) : awesome

  • Comment 12, posted at 15.12.08 11:21:21 by robdylan Reply
  • @McLovin (Comment 8) :

    That is VERY near the top in the premiership.

    The Exiles in fact are rumoured to be willing to offer Collins around GBP350,000 a season to join them.

    Collins would then become the highest-paid player in the Premiership, taking the mantle off his fellow countryman Carl Hayman at the Falcons.

  • Comment 13, posted at 15.12.08 12:47:20 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 13) : that is an obscene amount of money. Really, really obscene. In fact, that sort of thing brings out the socialist in me.

  • Comment 14, posted at 15.12.08 12:49:43 by robdylan Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 14) :

    I am sure the figure is correct but the story itself is part of a gossip column, so I have only posted that excerpt to mention the money issue.

    So much for their being a downturn in the GP finances. 🙂

  • Comment 15, posted at 15.12.08 12:53:55 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 15) : there’s no way it’s sustainable in the current UK economic climate. I can almost guarantee that there will never be another offer like that made. Certainly not for five years at least.

  • Comment 16, posted at 15.12.08 12:55:49 by robdylan Reply
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 13) : @robdylan (Comment 14) : And to think some of the soccer fairies make that in a month. 🙄

  • Comment 17, posted at 15.12.08 12:56:08 by McLovin Reply
  • @McLovin (Comment 17) : yeah… eish

  • Comment 18, posted at 15.12.08 12:58:45 by robdylan Reply
  • @McLovin (Comment 17) :

    You need to get paid more for combination sports though. Diving, Gymnastics, Acting and Soccer all in one.

    Those players MUST be worth their weight in gold.

  • Comment 19, posted at 15.12.08 13:01:04 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 19) : Multi talented they are…. 🙄

  • Comment 20, posted at 15.12.08 13:09:55 by McLovin Reply
  • Would be interesting to know how many of these privatly owned clubs turn a profit. By the sounds of it the owners pump a lot of their own cash into the clubs. Surely that’s not sustainable long term?

  • Comment 21, posted at 15.12.08 13:11:28 by McLovin Reply
  • @McLovin (Comment 21) :

    “By the SOUNDS of it” I think VERY few of these guys would be doing it if there wasn’t a positive return on investment.

    They would like us all to believe they don’t make money off of it. Sort of like the rich saying “We won’t be doing well this month we only made 4mil profit instead of the usual 6mil”

  • Comment 22, posted at 15.12.08 13:15:07 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 22) : Ja, you’re probably right. 🙂

  • Comment 23, posted at 15.12.08 13:17:51 by McLovin Reply
  • @McLovin (Comment 21) : well, depends on how much cash they have to begin with.

  • Comment 24, posted at 15.12.08 13:17:54 by robdylan Reply
  • Here’s another STAGGERING salary.

    Ellis cited for Carter spear tackle
    Mon, 15 Dec 2008 22:25

    Leicester Tigers scrumhalf Harry Ellis was cited on Monday for a spear tackle on Perpignan flyhalf Dan Carter, following the All Black star’s debut in a 26-20 Heineken Cup victory by the French club at the weekend.

    New Zealand flyhalf Carter, who is earning a reported £35,000 (US$53,000 dollars) per match during his six month stay with Perpignan, guided his new club to a hard-earned Pool Three victory over the Tigers at the weekend.

    But in the process he had to survive a spear tackle by the England and Tigers scrumhalf, Ellis, which saw Carter land on his head from a height of some six feet.

    A spear tackle is regarded as one of the most dangerous of all illegal forms of tackling, yet Ellis avoided even a yellow card, which would have seen him sin-binned, from Irish referee Alan Lewis.

    However, Scottish match citing commissioner Iain Goodall cited Ellis on Monday “for an alleged dangerous tackle on Perpignan player Dan Carter”.

    A statement issued by tournament organisers European Rugby Cup said: “Harry Ellis, the Leicester Tigers replacement [No.20], is due to appear before an independent Disciplinary Committee as a result of a citing arising from the Round Four Heineken Cup Pool Three match against Perpignan at Stade Aime Giral on Sunday, 14 December, 2008.

    “The citing lodged by the Citing Commissioner for the match, Iain Goodall [Scotland] is for an alleged dangerous tackle on Perpignan player Dan Carter [No.10] in contravention of Law 10.4 (e).

    “The independent Disciplinary Committee will be appointed as soon as practicable.”

    Law 10.4 (e) – Dangerous tackle: ‘A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously.’

    After the match, Carter – widely regarded as the best flyhalf in the world – told reporters: “I was very thankful that I wasn’t hurt. It was pretty scary up there and I had no control over how I was going to land.

    “I am very relieved to be injury-free.”

    * Meanwhile Clermont lock Jamie Cudmore is also facing a DC hearing.

    “An independent Disciplinary Committee will be convened to consider if any further action is required following the sending-off of Jamie Cudmore, the Clermont Auvergne lock [No.4], in the Heineken Cup Round Four Pool One match against Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday, 13 December, 2008,” an ERC statement said.

    “The player was sent off by English referee Chris White in the 18th minute for punching.

    “The independent Disciplinary Committee will be appointed as soon as practicable.”

    * Dax lock Michael Bert is also in hot water, following the weekend’s action.

    “Mickael Bert, the Dax lock [No.4], is due to appear before an independent Disciplinary Committee as a result of a citing arising from the Round Four European Challenge Cup Pool One match against London Irish at the Madejski Stadium on Thursday, 11 December, 2008.

    “The citing lodged by the Citing Commissioner for the match, Geraint Edwards [Wales] is for an alleged punch on London Irish player James Buckland [No.2] in contravention of Law 10.4 (a).

    “The independent Disciplinary Committee will be appointed as soon as practicable.”

    Law 10.4 (a) – Punching or striking: ‘A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee(s).’

  • Comment 25, posted at 16.12.08 07:02:28 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • New Zealand flyhalf Carter, who is earning a reported £35,000 (US$53,000 dollars) per match during his six month stay with Perpignan

    If he playes 10 matches in 6 months he gets to the 350k mark, 😯 which was reportedly the highest paid salary in Europe if Collins accepted the offer.

  • Comment 26, posted at 16.12.08 07:04:00 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 25) : That tackle was straight from the WWE handbook. That he didn’t get at least a yellow was a bit of a surprise.

  • Comment 27, posted at 16.12.08 11:15:53 by McLovin Reply
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 26) : I’m sure I’ve heard/read somewhere he gets €700,000 for the 6 months with Perpignan. 😯

  • Comment 28, posted at 16.12.08 11:21:30 by McLovin Reply
  • @McLovin (Comment 28) : That’s without any win bonus for winning the Top 14 or Heineken Cup.

  • Comment 29, posted at 16.12.08 11:22:26 by McLovin Reply

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