Australian board looks to grass roots for bailout
ESPN Staff
February 9, 2014
ARU CEO Bill Pulver larks around  during the 2013 Australian Super Rugby launch at Sketch, Central Pier, Melbourne, February 13, 2013
ARU CEO Bill Pulver has introduced a new third tier national competition despite money woes © Getty Images

The seriousness of the Australian Rugby Union's financial problems has been further highlighted with news the board has been forced to go hat in hand to clubs around the country and charge a hastily introduced $A200 levy on each team for the new season.

Many junior clubs have been left with a bitter taste in their mouth about the new levy given that many clubs had sent out their fees months before they were told of it in the last week of January.

"Most rugby people will stump up but the poor communication around it is really disappointing and so is the planning," one Brisbane junior club official told The Courier-Mail. "We set our fees last year and now we are up for an extra $12,000. There is no way that any we will stop any kid from playing who has been registered but won't pay the new fee.

"Surely the finances of the ARU have not gone from shaky to crap in three months. With something like this they should have been engaging with the clubs six months ago [instead of announcing it via a bland three-page PowerPoint presentation]."

After what appeared to be a successful British & Irish Lions tour for the ARU last year, the board revealed it made a profit of only $A10 million (£5.5 million) for the year despite netting more than $A100 million in revenue.

Add to this the introduction of a third-tier competition - the National Rugby Championship - a competition that is likely to cost a fortune. Already some Brisbane clubs are baulking at being linked to the competition with the fear that costs will soon spiral out of control.

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