RFU seeks City donations
Corporations can fill gap in Jones’ budget for France 2023 Sweeney insists such backing is a legitimate revenue stream
England’s hopes of winning the World Cup in 2023 may rely on a cash injection from blue-chip companies as the Rugby Football Union adjusts to having to make significant cuts because of Covid-19. Eddie Jones’ budget will be among the costs under scrutiny with the RFU hoping external donations will offset any impact.
The Rugby Football Union is to seek external funding, including donations from benefactors and blue-chip companies, in order to bolster the budget available for Eddie Jones and his England squad, in the face of significant cuts across the organisation because of the pandemic.
With a predicted loss of revenue of £107 million caused by lockdown, the RFU is being forced to reduce its cost base, including the expected loss of 139 employees.
Jones’s budget, which was more than £3million for the World Cup campaign in Japan, is also under scrutiny, but the RFU is hoping that external donations will offset the impact of any cuts.
Jones held a meeting with Bill Sweeney, the RFU chief executive, on Monday, to outline his plans going into the next World Cup in France in 2023 and potential areas of expenditure.
Jones said: “I’ve got a sketch of what I think we need to do. Obviously there is some investment we need to make. But we’ll wait to see how things translate. It’s a difficult time for rugby, when you’re looking around the world at staff being cut. I’ve experienced this myself with my daughter [being] stood down for six months by Australian Rugby.”
Sweeney, however, has said the union was prepared to explore new avenues to attract revenue linked directly to the England team. revealed last September that former England captain Will Carling, who has been working with England as a leadership consultant, had been tasked with approaching contacts in the City of London to raise funds to cover the shortfall from the campaign in Japan and a similar fundraising move is expected.
“I never understood why it caused controversy in rugby,” said Sweeney, who secured external funding while he was chief executive at the British Olympic Association. “Raising funding from the City, patrons and donors linked into team assets is a legitimate revenue stream and we will look to maximise that going forward.”
Jones has seen a temporary 25 per cent reduction of his £750,000 salary made permanent as part of the cuts. “I was asked to do it, I understand the situation,” he said. “The sacrifice I am making personally, as compared to some other people are making in sport and society, is negligible.”
Owen Farrell, the England captain, yesterday committed his longterm future to Saracens despite their relegation to the Championship next season over the club’s salary cap breaches. Jones, however, said he would have no difficulty in selecting Farrell and the England contingent at Saracens.
Of more concern to Jones is the potential impact of a 12-month season facing the players after Premiership Rugby’s decision to try to complete its current campaign in full when the league resumes next month. “We can’t expect the players to play this season, play internationals and then go straight into another club season, and then potentially go on a Lions tour,” Jones told the BBC.
“It’s a job for the administrators to work out how to find the right balance.”
Cut: Eddie Jones’s salary reduction is to be permanent