Twelve of the 13 member clubs of England’s Premiership Rugby have reported losses for the 2017-18 season, with only the current league leader and last year’s runner-up Exeter Chiefs posting a profit, The Guardian reports.
Exeter’s gains of £533,000 were dwarfed by the collective losses of almost £50m by the other 12 clubs – which include relegated London Irish, now playing in the second-tier Championship but which remains a board member of the Premiership. Irish’s relegation led to it losing £10.5m over the course of the season, more than any other club.
Bristol Bears, which was promoted to the Premiership at the end of 2017-18 after a single season in the Premiership, lost £7.2m, while title-winning Saracens posted losses of almost £4m. This was offset somewhat by Saracens’ owner Nigel Wray turning £48m in loans from the parent company into equity.
The results are almost identical to the previous season – when, again, Exeter were the only team to make a profit – although every club increased its debts in 2017-18.
The numbers help to demonstrate why the Premiership members took the decision to sell a significant share in the league to CVC Capital Partners last year. As part of that deal, each club will receive a sum of £13.5m up front, as well as invest into TopCo, the company CVC has established to run the commercial arm of Premiership Rugby.
There is also hope across the league that the CVC investment will help to reinvigorate the sport commercially. In a statement given alongside Saracens’ accounts, Wray said that the deal will prove “transformational for the club game and, indeed, the game as a whole”.