HomeRugbySteve Lansdown: Bristol owner calls on Premiership Rugby to generate more revenue

Steve Lansdown: Bristol owner calls on Premiership Rugby to generate more revenue

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Steve Lansdown
Bristol Bears owner Steve Lansdown (right) also owns Bristol City Football Club

Bristol Bears owner Steve Lansdown says Premiership Rugby (PRL) must do more to increase revenues to help financially-struggling clubs.

Meanwhile, Worcester have until Monday to prove they can keep going.

“What PRL need to do is to really focus on commercial revenue or generating new revenue, and improving the offering that we get out there to attract other investors into the sport,” he said.

Clubs have more than £500m of debt following the Covid-19 pandemic and owe around £35m between them to His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Lansdown – who has personally lent the Bears around £50m – says lockdown and playing games behind closed doors ‘exacerbated the problem’ facing England’s elite clubs.

“There’s just not enough money in the game,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“All clubs get their revenue mainly through ticket sales, central revenue and commercial revenue.

“Central revenue has been on a decline in recent years because of Covid and a lack of playing, matchday revenue obviously dropped off a cliff with Covid and commercial revenue hasn’t picked up.

Clubs agreed to sell a minority stake in Premiership Rugby to CVC Capital Partners in December 2018, with the private equity firm pledging to invest more than £200m into the competition.

Wasps’ debts stem from the inability to pay back £35m in bonds which helped finance their relocation to Coventry from London in 2014.

But Worcester face a winding-up petition from HMRC over an unpaid £6m tax bill and also have to pay back £14m in government loans taken during the pandemic.

“We had the funding through the pandemic, but of course it’s in the form of loans – so that’s one of the problems that say Worcester are faced with,” added Lansdown.

“When you borrow money, you do have to have the ability to repay it, or have the ability to have it moved or converted into equity.

“In reality if the funding is free, then it’s more than welcome, but you shouldn’t expect anything for nothing in this life.

“We have a deal with CVC but to date that’s been, to be honest, a little bit disappointing, but hopefully we’ll see that improve in the future.”

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