Northampton announce pay cuts as Premiership suspension takes hold

By Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent
PA Media: Sport

Northampton have become the latest Gallagher Premiership club to announce 25 per cent pay cuts for players and staff.

They follow the likes of Harlequins, Wasps, Gloucester and Leicester, with the Premiership currently suspended until April 24 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Northampton chief executive Mark Darbon said: “The coronavirus pandemic has come midway through a comprehensive five-year plan for the club.

“We have been making good progress, both on and off the pitch, but the outbreak is now creating significant stress on our business model, as it is for other clubs in our league and, indeed, for sports and entertainment businesses more broadly. In short, we are faced with a significant slowdown in our income.

“While the clear intention of the league and the clubs remains to get back to playing rugby as soon as possible, if we were to lose our remaining home games and the other major events we are due to stage at Franklin’s Gardens it would have a severe financial impact, despite our relatively strong balance sheet.

“While we are extremely confident we can weather this storm, on the basis of these unique circumstances the club’s board are unanimous that we have to make timely and difficult decisions in order to protect Northampton Saints for the foreseeable future.

“Alongside a number of other financial management measures, the board have therefore taken the decision to reduce salaries for all of the club’s players and staff by 25 per cent, effective from April 1.

“Clearly, this is not a decision that was taken lightly, but it was a necessary adjustment to make to reduce our cost base with immediate effect.

“I consulted with our director of rugby Chris Boyd, our club captain and RPA (Rugby Players’ Association) representative Alex Waller, and several senior members of the playing squad on Friday afternoon before communicating this decision to the rest of the club’s staff.

“I could not be prouder of how the playing group, support staff and commercial team reacted to the news.

“We have a wonderful environment at Saints, and I am incredibly grateful for the superb work our staff are continuing to produce through these challenging times.

“The decision will be constantly reviewed as circumstances change.”

Leicester confirmed on Saturday they would join Gloucester, Saracens, Wasps and Worcester in asking players to take a 25 per cent pay cut, with Harlequins following suit on Monday.

Bristol, meanwhile, revealed they had asked staff to accept an undisclosed reduction in salary as clubs try to cope with the impact of Covid-19’s outbreak in the UK.

The Premiership has nine rounds of games left to play, plus the play-off semi-finals and final.

An announcement is likely from Premiership Rugby in the next week to 10 days as to whether the current suspension will be extended.

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