RFU seeks City dona­tions

Cor­po­ra­tions can fill gap in Jones’ bud­get for France 2023 Sweeney in­sists such back­ing is a le­git­i­mate rev­enue stream

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - Ex­clu­sive By Gavin Mairs chief rugby cor­re­spon­dent The Daily Tele­graph

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

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