Rugby

Welsh Rugby Union and regions agree new £23.5m funding plan for 2023

Steve Phillips replaced Martyn Phillips as the Welsh Rugby Union chief executive

A funding agreement has been reached by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and four rugby regions up until 2023.

The Professional Rugby Board (PRB), which has representatives from the regions and WRU, runs the professional game in Wales.

Under the new agreement, funding will rise to £23.5m between Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets by 2023.

“The PRB has worked hard on this latest agreement,” said WRU chief executive Steve Phillips.

“We are confident we have found a solution that meets the short-term requirements of our four regional sides.”

The proposal was passed by the WRU board earlier this month and is subject to the terms of the Professional Rugby Agreement (PRA) which is an agreement between the governing body and regions set up in 2018.

The PRA funding will immediately increase by £2m for the year ending 30 June, 2021 from £3m to £5m.

The figure will rise to £23m for the year ending 30 June, 2022 and reach £23.5m for the year ending 30 June, 2023.

As part of the agreement it is acknowledged business plans for the year ending 2023 are indicative only and based on a number of current assumptions, which may vary.

“The WRU board is delighted to approve this solution to provide further stability to the professional game, in these most extenuating circumstances,” added Phillips.

“The projected funding described is naturally subject to fluctuation depending on circumstance – as we all know well from recent experience – but it is also acknowledged by all parties that parameters, within which we can all operate, must be set as far in advance as possible, in order to facilitate the necessary planning process.”

The PRB is made up of Phillips, WRU finance director Tim Moss, four regional chairmen David Buttress (Dragons), Rob Davies (Ospreys), Alun Jones (Cardiff) and Simon Muderack (Scarlets) and independent member Marianne Okland. It is chaired by Amanda Blanc.

“Success on the field requires a realistic and sustainable funding plan which I am delighted we have agreed,” said Blanc.

“Our regional sides are crucial to the success of Welsh rugby and this funding agreement gives them greater confidence and certainty to plan for their future.

“The PRB has consulted extensively to deliver this agreement which provides a credible funding plan for our regional game. We must now work hard to seize this opportunity for the long-term health of the game we love.”

There is no official mention of the £20m loan in the announcement the WRU negotiated for the four regions under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) in 2020.

The loan was to enable Wales’ four professional teams to avoid financial collapse during the pandemic after the expected £26m funding to the regions dropped to £3m for the 2020-21 season, due to the impact of Covid-19.

In November 2020, the four regions agreed how the original £20m loan would be shared between them with Scarlets receiving £5.5m, Cardiff and Ospreys £5m each, and Dragons £4.5m.

The loan was negotiated by the WRU on behalf of the regions, who are responsible for the repayments with the first instalment due on 1 July, 2021. The WRU says it will continue to renegotiate the terms of that loan.

In January 2021, Welsh rugby also received a £13.5m grant from the Welsh government as part of its £17.7m funding package to help spectator sports in Wales impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

That was divided equally between the regions and WRU with each entity receiving £2.7m.

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