England rugby chiefs could cut workforce by a quarter due to virus

London (AFP)


The English Rugby Football Union (RFU) has announced plans to slash a quarter of its staff as part of sweeping measures to cope with the devastating financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said the organisation faced a loss in revenue in the short term of £107 million ($134 million), requiring painful cost-cutting.

Sweeney, who took on the role in February 2019 after a spell with the British Olympic Association, said there would be consultations over the measures to be taken.

In a letter to the rugby community he said the RFU was projecting a recovery period that could last up to five years, with a cumulative 20 percent loss of revenue over that time.

"To ensure we have a sustainable RFU we have announced to colleagues that it is proposed that the total number of roles across the organisation will reduce by 139," he said in the letter published on www.englandrugby.com.

"This will be a difficult process, but we will be consulting with colleagues in a fair way to completely remodel our business."

Sweeney, appointed to the RFU in a bid to tackle financial problems that led to previous job cuts, said measures taken so far including furloughing staff and pay cuts were not enough.

"We need to maintain our organisation for the long term -- this is not a short-term cost reduction exercise," he said. "The RFU will still stand, but the impact of COVID-19 will continue to affect us for many years to come."

England hope to play some Test rugby later this year, with the traditional November matches still scheduled to take place.

A decision is expected this month on whether those matches, against New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Australia will go ahead.

The RFU is hoping a limited number of fans will be permitted to attend the games at Twickenham.

Six Nations chiefs are reportedly making contingency plans for a similar tournament if the November fixtures do not go ahead.

The 2020 Six Nations is yet to be completed. The lockdown came with all countries having at least one match to play.