Note – this article was originally posted on June 13, and updated on June 29 following the AGM.
The RFL has reported a profit for the second consecutive year in 2020, despite the major disruption caused by Covid-19.
The draft Annual Report and Financial Statements distributed to clubs and other Council members ahead of the 2021 Annual General Meeting contain details of a £25,000 profit, following a figure of £75,000 for 2019.
This was despite the impact of the pandemic, most significantly through the cancellation of the home Ashes series scheduled for the autumn of 2020, and the absence of spectators from the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley which was put back from July to October.
The RFL weathered this storm through a combination of cost reduction and Government support.
Staff costs were reduced by £363,000, with RFL employees and directors taking voluntary reductions to support the sport – as many others did for their clubs – and some restructuring taking place, in addition to the wages of others being supported by the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (furlough).
This followed a reduction in staffing costs of 27% over the previous three years.
The RFL also worked with Government on the distribution of loan support provided to the sport, with more than £14m of an initial loan facility of £16m released in 2020, and an additional £16.7m made available in early 2021 – the RFL administered the application process internally on behalf of the sport thus ensuring no significant costs were incurred by the clubs, the RFL or game during this process, which was then replicated in a number of other sports.
The accounts also acknowledge increased support from Sport England, both for Rugby League World Cup 2021, and the Community Game.
In 2020, the RFL Board directed the Executive to put together a five-year financial plan “to map out different scenarios and levels of income to aid planning for the future”.
The Report also confirms the sale of Red Hall, the RFL’s Leeds headquarters since 1995, for a seven-figure sum soon after the end of the period covered by these accounts, a significant boost to liquidity but also a strategic move to a single more modern office more suited to an NGB, as part of the Sport City development at Manchester’s Etihad Campus.
The Financial Statements were approved at the 2021 AGM on June 29.
The AGM also approved the reappointment of Chris Hurst as a Non-Executive Director for a second three-year term. Chris joined the RFL Board in December 2018 after almost 20 years of experience in the sports industry, and also works as a Trustee on the Board of the Women’s Sport Trust. His term now runs until December 2024.