RFU banks record £15m wind­fall from All Black visit

Re­de­vel­oped East Stand hos­pi­tal­ity boosts prof­its Top tick­ets priced at £1,345 for glam­our tie

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Rugby -

RUGBY NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

The Rugby Foot­ball Union will re­ceive record to­tal rev­enue of close to £15 mil­lion for what is ex­pected to be the most lu­cra­tive Test match out­side the World Cup when Eng­land face New Zealand at Twick­en­ham to­day.

The de­mand is such that the RFU has sold out its 6,500-ca­pac­ity cor­po­rate hos­pi­tal­ity fa­cil­ity in the new £81mil­lion East Stand, in­clud­ing all 1,000 of the most ex­pen­sive tick­ets, which cost £1,345 (plus VAT) each.

The RFU’S de­ci­sion to raise 8,000 of its premium match tick­ets to a record price of £195 has also not de­terred sup­port­ers, with an 82,000 ca­pac­ity guar­an­teed months ago for the first meet­ing of the sides since 2014.

On sec­ondary mar­ket web­sites yes­ter­day, tick­ets were sell­ing for as much as £1,070, with­out any hos­pi­tal­ity.

In the year that the RFU has made more than 60 mem­bers of staff re­dun­dant in cost-cut­ting mea­sures, the ex­tra rev­enue will be wel­come. Pre­vi­ously, such Tests gen­er­ated around £10 mil­lion.

The in­crease is in part off­set by ris­ing costs, in­clud­ing the re­de­vel­op­ment of the East Stand, which rose from an orig­i­nal bud­get of £54mil­lion to more than £80mil­lion, largely be­cause of fire-safety re­quire­ments in the wake of the Gren­fell Tower dis­as­ter and ex­tra se­cu­rity re­quire­ments.

How­ever, Steven Brown, the RFU chief ex­ec­u­tive, told Tele­graph Sport that the ex­tra in­come would have ma­jor im­pli­ca­tions for fund­ing for the game.

The debt to fi­nance the re­de­vel­op­ment is set to be paid off by 2023 and the stand is ex­pected to gen­er­ate a profit within seven years.

“It was al­ready go­ing to be a big match for us be­fore we had the [new East Stand] hos­pi­tal­ity and if you add that back in, it is go­ing to be ex­tremely big, one of the big­gest we have had, no ques­tion,” said Brown, who was also in charge of the or­gan­is­ing com­pany when the RFU hosted the 2015 World Cup fi­nal at Twick­en­ham.

“Build­ing some­thing this scale and size, which houses 6,500 peo­ple for hos­pi­tal­ity for this week­end, is some­thing spe­cial and po­ten­tially pretty unique.

“We are open­ing five of the big­gest restau­rants, prob­a­bly in Eu­rope, this week­end, with hun­dreds of chefs and thou­sands of staff work­ing to de­liver some­thing quite spec­tac­u­lar and spe­cial for one of the big­gest rugby games in the cal­en­dar. This gen­er­ates sub­stan­tial in­crease in our in­come for the RFU through our Twick­en­ham Ex­pe­ri­ence joint ven­ture with Com­pass [the hos­pi­tal­ity com­pany] and it gives us ad­di­tional rev­enue to con­sider for rein­vest­ment across the game.

“In the past, when some of this hos­pi­tal­ity was not within the foot­print of the RFU and Twick­en­ham, other peo­ple were mak­ing money on that. Now we have a new sys­tem where peo­ple come to our fa­cil­ity, they have a great time, the bestqual­ity ex­pe­ri­ence that they can have, and the RFU gen­er­ates prof­its that go straight back into the game.”

Brown de­fended the de­ci­sion to raise the cost of the most ex­pen­sive tick­ets for the match.

“It is part of an over­all bal­ance be­tween en­sur­ing we get the best value we can from the mar­ket in a high-de­mand sit­u­a­tion but also that Num­ber of chefs in the East Stand for to­day’s game. Din­ers eat­ing in the new East Stand to­day.

we do pro­vide for chil­dren’s tick­ets, and 4,000 have been made avail­able for each of the four games,” Brown added.

“And as a part of our over­all tick­et­ing pric­ing strat­egy, we have con­sid­ered where else we have games in the coun­try – you have seen we have an­nounced that we are go­ing to be play­ing in New­cas­tle in the World Cup warm-ups.

“So, while we gen­er­ate more rev­enue from hav­ing higher ticket prices, where the de­mand is there for that, it also helps us fund get­ting kids in to watch the game and for other parts of the coun­try to see Eng­land play­ing rugby on an in­ter­na­tional stage.

“The one thing we can­not do any­thing about is that there are mil­lions of peo­ple who want to buy tick­ets to see Eng­land play at Twick­en­ham in th­ese big in­ter­na­tional matches and we don’t have a sta­dium big enough to house them, so we have to bal­ance all those re­quire­ments off and try to get as much in­clu­sion as we can – and re­mem­ber the clubs still get half the tick­ets and they pay a dif­fer­ent price to those sold pub­licly.”

Steve Hansen, the All Blacks coach, sug­gested ear­lier in the week that the fi­nances of in­ter­na­tional rugby would be helped if the RFU shared the gate re­ceipts with teams vis­it­ing Twick­en­ham for such high­pro­file Test matches. Brown, how­ever, dis­missed the idea.

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