Revealed: Premiership clubs took £124m in taxpayer cash

·2-min read
 A general view of play during the Gallagher Premiership match at the Brentford Community Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday February 21, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story RUGBYU London Irish. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire - PA
A general view of play during the Gallagher Premiership match at the Brentford Community Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday February 21, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story RUGBYU London Irish. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire - PA

The amount of taxpayers’ money poured into Premiership Rugby clubs to stop them going bust has more than doubled initial estimates to reach £124 million, Telegraph Sport can reveal.

The true scale of the financial crisis engulfing the professional game since the coronavirus pandemic can be laid bare in the week this newspaper disclosed Worcester Warriors had been hit with a winding up petition by HM Revenue & Customs and Wasps were also being pursued over unpaid tax.

It was originally calculated that the Government’s Covid-19 Sports Winter Survival Package would allocate £59m to Premiership clubs when the initiative was announced back in November 2020 as part of a sector-wide bailout for those starved of vital ticket revenue during various lockdowns.

Four months later, though, that figure had rocketed to £88m following detailed submissions from clubs chronicling their estimated losses. The department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport tailored packages to meet the financial circumstances of individuals organisations, providing loans to give them the best possible chance of survival in the short term.

It has now emerged that has subsequently surged again by more than 40 per cent to an average of almost £10m for each of the 13 Premiership teams for what are 20-plus year loans they will soon need to begin paying back. Premiership Rugby have declined to comment.

In November 2020, as Premiership fixtures were being played out behind closed doors to obliterate vital income streams, the initial estimate of £59m was greeted with relief by Darren Childs, who stepped down from his post as the league’s chief executive the following April and has since been replaced by Simon Massie-Taylor.

“For Premiership Rugby clubs to receive up to £59 million of support is a much-needed lifeline for our clubs, for whom government support is a last resort and a vote of confidence in Premiership Rugby’s ability to overcome the short term impact of Covid-19 and continue our ambitious plans for growing the game,” said Childs.

“Keeping the league intact has been my number one priority during the pandemic and now we have the foundations from which to grow the game and build longer-term financial stability,” he added.