Wales

Welsh regions agree £20m loan split: Scarlets £5.5m, Cardiff Blues and Ospreys £5m, Dragons £4.5m

Steve Phillips joined the Welsh Rugby Union in 2007
Steve Phillips joined the Welsh Rugby Union in 2007

Wales’ four professional teams have agreed how they will share a £20m loan designed to help them avoid financial collapse during the coronavirus pandemic.

Scarlets will receive £5.5m, Cardiff Blues and Ospreys £5m and Dragons £4.5m via a deal the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) negotiated with NatWest Cymru.

Each region has agreed to repay its loan over a five-year period.

The loan is “needed” because revenue cannot be generated “in the usual way”.

The regions and WRU have an umbrella organisation to run the game’s top tier – the Professional Rugby Board (PRB).

Its chair, Amanda Blanc, said in a statement: “We are extremely grateful to NatWest Cymru for supporting professional rugby in Wales with this hugely significant contribution to our sustainability for the year ahead.

“PRB members have engaged in open discussions about the allocation of funds according to the individual and different needs of each entity.

“This is precisely what the PRB is here to do, to manage, facilitate and enable professional rugby in Wales and to sustain all five professional entities in accordance to the needs of each at a given time.

“For a region to accept and vote through a decision which gives themselves less funding than a neighbour, but for justifiable and entirely explicable reasons, shows the PRB working at its finest.”

The WRU has an annual turnover of £90m, more than half of which is generated by international matches. Most home fixtures have not been held in 2020 because of coronavirus.

It is understood a projected £26m was allocated for the four sides for the 2020-21 season pre Covid-19, but that has fallen to less than £4m.

Stuart Allison, a NatWest Cymru director, said: “In 2019 we structured a financing arrangement designed to facilitate growth and revenue diversification [with the WRU].

“In response to the immediate challenges of the pandemic, we revisited that arrangement and crafted a structure that will provide additional funding and flexibility to further support the WRU and, in turn, professional rugby in Wales with this loan.”

The £20m will come via the UK government-backed CLBILS loan scheme, which gives NatWest Cymru an 80% against the outstanding balance of the loan, but “the borrower remains fully liable for the debt”.

Interim WRU chief executive Steve Phillips was heavily involved in the loan negotiations in his previous role as WRU finance director.

He said: “The easiest thing to do would have been to split £20m four ways, but it is to everyone’s credit that we have come up with a much more appropriate solution than that.

“The four regions are all at different stages and their needs differ accordingly.”


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