Coronavirus: RFU could cut workforce by quarter after pandemic

By Chris JonesBBC rugby union correspondent
Twickenham
England are due to play four matches at Twickenham in November

The Rugby Football Union has announced plans to slash a quarter of its workforce in order to cope with a potential £100m financial hole.

In a letter to the rugby community, chief executive Bill Sweeney says the union needs to "completely remodel its business" after the Covid-19 pandemic.

As many as 139 of the 580 members of staff could be made redundant.

"We are projecting a four to five year recovery with cumulative revenue reductions around 20%," said Sweeney.

"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.

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

While the RFU has made a number of short-term cost-cutting measures, such as implementing temporary pay cuts and furloughing 60% of staff, Sweeney says long-term solutions are required.

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

"Our detailed scenario modelling shows there may be a short-term impact of £107m in lost revenues and we also know there will be a much longer-term effect."

A decision is expected in the middle of July regarding the autumn Test schedule, with the RFU hoping that the recent changes to social distancing and the opening up of the hospitality sector will allow a limited number of spectators at Twickenham.

England are scheduled to host New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Tonga, but the home nations are making contingency plans for a Six Nations-style tournament if the original fixtures cannot be fulfilled.

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