Bath Rugby publish 2019/20 financial results

Bath Rugby report 16% revenue loss for the year ended 30 June 2020.


Key Points 

  • Stuart Hooper’s first season as Director of Rugby saw the club qualify for the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals for the first time in five years, after securing a 4th place finish in the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership. 
  • Qualified for the Heineken’s Champions Cup for the 2020/21 season. 
  • 16% revenue loss year-on-year due to Covid-19. Significant incremental losses incurred in the 2020/21 financial year due to Covid-19. 
  • EBITDA loss of £3.5m, reduced to £2.7m via the utilisation of available government support. 
  • Strategic cost saving and club restructure reduced overheads during the summer of 2020. 
  • Increased shareholder financing support of £5m.
  • Launched Farleigh Performance (“Fp”) as part of long-term plans to diversify operations – Fp is an organisational development consultancy designed to develop business as a ‘force for good’, and to place learning at the heart of sustained organisational success. 

Management Commentary   

A fourth-place finish in October 2020 saw the club qualify for the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals for the first time in five years following an excellent run of form after the resumption of elite sport in August. While disappointed to not continue the campaign beyond the semi-final, it was undoubtedly a strong first season in charge for newly appointed Director of Rugby, Stuart Hooper. 

The campaign’s success was due to several factors, including the emergence of young players from the pathway supported with targeted recruitment, the development of the playing group’s culture and leadership, and a focus on the key pillars of our game. 

Throughout the challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic, the club focussed on transparent and open communication with players and staff, using the opportunity to build the squad’s togetherness, which was reflected in the club’s approach in re-contracting the squad following changes made to the Salary Cap Regulations in June 2020.  

Stuart Hooper took on the Director of Rugby role and built a new coaching and leadership team for the 2019/20 season as part of a long-term plan set out to supporters early in the 2018/19 season.  

Further to this, the club continues to invest in the Academy and Player Pathway, including strategic partnerships with the University of Bath and Beechen Cliff School, to build a squad of at least 50% homegrown players by 2023.


Financial Results  

The company’s key financial and other performance indicators during the year were as follows: 

 20202019
Turnover16,825,18420,087,156
Turnover growth %(16)1
(Loss)/Profit after taxation(2,054,967)4,318,518
EBITDA (Loss)/Profit(2,748,676)6,214,124

Analysis   

The financial impact of the pandemic saw a 16% year-on-year reduction in turnover to £16.8 million, which resulted in a £2.7 million EBITDA loss (2019: £1.2 million adjusted underlying EBITDA loss), resulting in a £1.5 million increase in EBITDA loss year-on-year.   

The increase in EBITDA loss directly results from the impact on Premiership Rugby distributions to the club, the delay in completing the season, and the loss of match income from March 2020 when supporters were prohibited from attending games. 

Losses were partially offset by a review and restructuring of the club and strategic cost savings in the summer of 2020, in addition to utilising available government support.  

To meet the business’s extraordinary cash flow needs, the sole shareholder increased their financing of the club by £5 million in the financial year, which is substantially greater than previous annual funding.   

Furthermore, the club is still in the unique position of incurring annual operating costs in the region of c.£1 million to erect a temporary stadium and ancillary facilities at the Rec each season.


Covid-19  

The pandemic dominated the financial and rugby year across all levels of the game. 

In March 2020, rugby rightly stopped for the first time in history as the focus turned to everyone’s welfare in the community and resources were redirected to public services working to cope with those directly affected by the coronavirus. 

The financial impact on all clubs in the league was significant and immediate.  All players and staff supported the club by agreeing to a 25% reduction of salary, effective from April 1st, 2020. The reduction did not apply to lower-earning staff members and players, or those facing financial difficulty. Tiered wage reductions have continued through 2020/21. 

Rugby did not return until August 2020, meaning the 2019/20 Premiership season completed in October 2020 without crowds, following the financial year-end. Furthermore, the pandemic has now created an unprecedented 12+ month period of absence of supporters from games.


Opportunity 

In November 2020 we launched a joint venture, Farleigh Performance (“Fp”), co-founded with Dr Graham Abbey. The consultancy will work with local, national, and international clients to create value despite today’s challenges, producing lasting improvements in team and organisational performance. The partnership brings together Bath Rugby’s understanding of human performance and its elite training environment at Farleigh House, with the research and experience of Graham Abbey who has spent his 30-year career working in and with organisations undergoing transformation. 

The new consultancy creates programmes and spaces for business, sport and charities, as well as Public Sector organisations, to innovate and collaborate in solving their most complex issues while building lasting purposeful performance. Fp will apply learning from the high-performance sporting environment to business environments, whilst also supporting the club in embedding new learning practices. 

The launch of Fp is part of the club’s long-term plans to develop a diversified and sustainable business model, whilst also contributing to sustained organisational performance across the business community and helping to develop business as a ‘force for good’.


Outlook  

The 2020/21 rugby and financial years continue to be significantly impacted by Covid-19. Trading cashflows are drastically reduced as rugby continues without spectators and central funding from the RFU and Premiership Rugby is significantly diminished. 

The Shareholder continues to support the club through this period, and it is hoped that by the autumn of 2021 Covid-19 will no longer materially affect the club’s ability to generate income and positive cashflows with the anticipated return of crowds to stadia from summer 2021. 

On the pitch we are, at the time of this release, competing in the knock-out stages of the European Challenge Cup and, in a highly competitive Gallagher Premiership we remain focused on doing everything possible in the final third of the season to qualify for a semi-final place. 

In terms of the community game, we look forward to making announcements later in 2021 regarding the role that we play supporting rugby across our region. 

Furthermore, almost a year has passed since we rightly paused work on the Stadium for Bath project due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At that time, we explained that we would use the opportunity to reflect on the work undertaken and the needs of the club, our city and our community. 

We have recently been granted leave on all grounds of appeal in relation to the 1922 Covenants and our landlord, Bath Recreation Limited, has also been granted permission to join the appeal proceedings. The appeal will be heard in autumn 2021. 

Our commitment to the city and to the significant contribution we can make through playing rugby at the Rec is undiminished, despite the many challenges which have been thrown at us. We will continue to consider solutions for an appropriate design at the Rec, which must also be financially sustainable over the long-term. The appeal hearing in the autumn is an important next step on the journey.  

In the meantime, the club will continue to operate its temporary stadium facilities at the Recreation Ground.


Chief Executive, Tarquin McDonald said: “Everyone has been impacted significantly throughout the on-going Covid-19 pandemic. This is no different at the club, and at the same time this period has brought us all closer together – the relentless passion and commitment shown by all our staff and players throughout this period has been outstanding.  

“We are also incredibly lucky to have an incredibly passionate and loyal core of supporters, who we have missed from our games for over a year now. The moment when we all come back together for rugby at the Rec will be one to savour.

“The financial impact from the pandemic is significant and today’s results are just the tip of the iceberg. Recovery will take time and we continue to work strategically to emerge stronger from this crisis.  

“We remain focused on investing over the short, medium, and long-term to achieve honours at both domestic and European levels; whilst also looking to develop a diversified and sustainable business model with the launch of Fp and further business projects in the future. 

“This season our sights are firmly set on a top-four finish and a strong campaign in the European Challenge Cup. As ever, our people, our player pathway, and a new home in the heart of our city remain at the heart of our plans.”

Source & Image: www.bathrugby.com

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