The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) reported net bank debt of £ 22.9million for the year through June 30, 2021, while net debt increased by around 50% to 114 , £ 4million.
The new net debt figure represents an increase of £ 38.8million, a substantial spike from the £ 75.6million the union owed until June 2020.
This despite the fact that the group recorded a pre-tax profit of £ 400,000 for the year, with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic still having a huge impact on sport.
The WRU recently released its annual report for the most recent fiscal year, highlighting the desperate plight of the union as it awaits the return of fans at full capacity at the upcoming fall internationals.
The £ 18million loan secured through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), which was used to support Welsh regional clubs during the pandemic, is a major factor behind the increase in debt .
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Net debt is defined as “bank loans, bonds and finance lease obligations, less cash balances”.
The finance lease nearly doubled year on year to £ 42.3million, due to the union’s investment in the redevelopment of the Parkgate Hotel on Westgate Street in Cardiff .
The project was intended to allow WRU to achieve long-term financial stability, but the hotel’s opening has been delayed since early 2021 due to the pandemic.
Wales were crowned 2021 Six Nations champions and narrowly missed the Grand Slam, but the trophy was won after Wayne Pivac’s side impressed in empty places.
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WRU’s revenue rose from £ 40.3million to £ 27.2million in the 12 months to June 30, while revenue was just £ 58.1million sterling, a significant drop from the £ 79.9million posted a year earlier.
WRU chief financial officer Tim Moss said it was “an achievement in itself” that the group managed to record even a profit of £ 400,000 given the impact of Covid-19.
General manager Steve Phillips, meanwhile, used the latest report to highlight how crucial fan presence is to the long-term viability of the national team.
“From the players who sacrificed their lives at home to join Bubbles, to the community gaming volunteers who diligently followed published paths to return to the game and to the supporters themselves – who pioneered in the summer as they were returning to the Principality stadium in limited numbers – everyone played their part to get us to this stadium, together, “he said in a statement.
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“We have resisted what was sent to us during YE21 and we have emerged to a place where we are comfortable moving forward and rebuilding our future.
“It will not be easy and for such a reconstruction to be successful we are extremely dependent on our ability to host international matches with assistance capacity in our stadium.
“It is the key economic engine that powers the game at large and we must also have a level playing field against our colleagues and competitors in tournaments in which our professional teams participate.”
Wales recently confirmed that their next October 30 test against New Zealand at the Principality Stadium is sold out six weeks before the All Blacks come to Cardiff.
Pivac’s men will also face world champions South Africa, Fiji and Australia over three consecutive weekends in November, each of which is expected to draw large crowds.