The acting chair of a government committee this morning accused the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby of “inert leadership”.
Damian Green MP made the comment in response to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s ‘Current issues in rugby union’ report, which said that the fall of Premiership clubs Wasps and Worcester Warriors was a “stain on the reputation” of English rugby’s chiefs while adding that the sport’s finances are “clearly unsustainable”.
A government committee investigating English rugby following the collapse of two Premiership clubs have described failings relating to Wasps and Worcester Warriors’ as a “stain on the reputation” of the sport’s governing bodies.
In their findings, the parliamentary committee – with Green as its acting chair in place of Julian Knight MP – added that there have been a “lack of safeguards in place at the highest levels of the game to prevent the kind of issues seen at Wasps and Worcester Warriors” and that “while collaboration between authorities was sorely lacking in the run up to two Premiership clubs going bust, there is precious little evidence that an increase will significantly increase revenues”.
“Inert leadership from the RFU and PRL has allowed mismanagement to collapse two of English rugby’s top teams.”Damian Green MP
The report is a scathing review of where English rugby is at the moment, having lost two of its top flight clubs this season due to financial woes.
Green said that “club rugby at the top of the game is in disarray”.
Committee chair on ‘Inert leadership’
“Inert leadership from the RFU and PRL has allowed mismanagement to collapse two of English rugby’s top teams,” the MP for Ashford added. “Thousands of loyal fans have been deprived of their clubs and hundreds of jobs have been lost.
“We welcome the raft of changes announced by the PRL and RFU. Better safeguards and a stronger owners’ and directors’ test are desperately needed. But it’s incredibly disappointing that two clubs had to collapse for the rugby governing bodies to act.
“More worryingly, the root of the problem remains. Rugby clubs are still spiralling into debt and the RFU and PRL’s current revenue boosting plans haven’t done enough in the past and are unlikely to make a difference going forward.
“With its upcoming annual report, the RFU must demonstrate to the Committee how it will protect the rest of the league from financial ruin.”
In a joint RFU and Prem Rugby statement made after City A.M. went to print, the two parties said: “Professional rugby clubs are independent individually managed business however, it’s clear that the pandemic and economic environment has further exposed the fragility in the professional system.
“Plans are already in place for a Financial Monitoring panel… and aim to announce an independent chair in due course.
“The previous Worcester owners at the time of their takeover passed directors’ tests including external agency reviews.
“On publication of the SDT judgement regarding Colin Goldring, correspondence confirmed the RFU would continue to consider action, but the immediate focus was the financial position of the club and to help it survive.
“It would be wrong to divert community game funding to sustain the losses of independent professional clubs, who receive funding via the professional game agreement.”