Aviva Premiership
Premiership chief hails improving financial picture
ESPN Staff
May 20, 2012
Gareth Steenson celebrates Exeter's win over Gloucester, Gloucester v Exeter, Aviva Premiership, Kingsholm, Gloucester, England, March 24, 2012
Exeter's headline-grabbing ascent into the Premiership has seen them become one of only four top flight clubs to make a profit © Getty Images

Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty has welcomed promising financial results from the country's leading clubs that have revealed four sides - Northampton, Exeter, Gloucester and Leicester - made a profit in the most recent financial year.

However, the top flight as a whole still posted a combined operating loss of £16.2m for the year ending June 2011 and of the 10 clubs to have filed their accounts with Companies House, half reported a deficit in excess of £1.5m.

The Rugby Paper reports that Exeter Chiefs led the way with a £900,000 operating profit for their first season in the Premiership - a campaign that ended in an 8th place finish in the league. That healthy return was matched by Northampton who bowed out of the Premiership play-offs at the semi-final stage before losing out to Leinster in the Heineken Cup finale. That season's Premiership winners Leicester laid claim to the biggest turnover of £19.5m with an operating profit of £600,000 - the same as Gloucester.

Premiership finalists Saracens posted the biggest loss of £5.6m with accounts also illustrating that an alarming 89.5% of their turnover was spent on staff costs - including player salaries. In contrast, 41% of the Tigers income was spent on their staff costs. Latest accounts for London Wasps and Sale Sharks were not available.

"Losses for 2011 are down from £21m in 2010 and our estimation is that they'll be down to about £11m this season, which means we'll have almost halved those in two year and we've got to keep that pace," McCafferty told the newspaper. "We're on the right track from that perspective but we've still got to get everyone over the line and into profit, which means better and stronger commercial and TV deals and helping clubs to develop and build their own businesses.

"We increased turnover to £120m from £111m two years ago and we've not got four clubs making money. That will go up to five or six in the near future because we've got others nearing break-even, so we must keep to the path we're on."

Addressing how clubs can meet that goal, he added: "There are two ways of eliminating losses: you can either grow the revenue or cut costs, which is why the salary cap is so crucial. It's a vital part of controlling playing costs, which are the largest part of a club's budget.

"We've reviewed it with the shareholders and our board and we are going to stick with what we previously agreed, which is that the cap for next season will be £4.5m plus the option of an excluded player."

Club Turnover Operating Profit
Bath 9.6m (1.8m)
Exeter Chiefs 8.3m 0.9m
Gloucester 11.3m 0.6m
Harlequins 12.3m (1.6m)
Leicester Tigers 19.5m 0.6m
London Irish 8.2m (1.1m)
London Wasps* 8.4m (3.1m)
Newcastle Falcons 6.0m (1.6m)
Northampton Saints 13.2m 0.9m
Sale Sharks* 8.0m (1.6m)
Saracens 7.6m (5.6m)
Worcester Warriors 7.6m (2.8m)

*2009-10 figures

Source: The Rugby Paper

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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