Leicester Tigers: Post Covid-19 redundancies to be made at Premiership club

By Adam Whitty & Ged ScottBBC Sport
Welford Road
Leicester were 11th in the Premiership table when the season was suspended in March

Leicester Tigers say they are likely to make redundancies in the wake of losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

BBC Radio Leicester understands at least 20 jobs could be lost as the club embark on a consultation process after losing an estimated £5.1m in revenue.

"It's all about getting Leicester Tigers through this," said the club's new chief executive Andrea Pinchen.

"Every line in the budget is being looked at. Unfortunately that includes looking at staff, which is sad."

Pinchen, who stepped up to the role of CEO from chief operating officer when she succeeded Simon Cohen in early May, told Leicester Tigers TV: "We have taken advantage of the government furlough scheme, we have all taken a pay-cut, but another of those cost-saving options is looking at potential redundancies and we have had to have robust conversations.

"Money is going out of the club at a rate of knots. We're talking big numbers."

From a staff of 171, from the Tigers' last set of published accounts in June 2019, the job losses are expected to add up to about a 11% cut in staff.

Tigers 'haemorrhaging money'

Speaking as part of a hook-up involving five key Tigers figures on the club's website, chairman Peter Tom added: "Part of my responsibility is to make decisions that affect people's lives. It's not something we do lightly but the club is haemorrhaging money.

"This is the worst aspect of anyone who gets into a management position. You can't wrap it up. It's brutal but I wouldn't be here if I couldn't do it.

"We have to make sure it's done properly, with respect for everybody and face-to-face. And it's much more difficult when you can't all be sat in the same room."

Facing up to the future

Tigers say, as well as benefiting from the government furlough scheme to address the wage bill of their playing staff, they are grateful to BT for paying up the remainder of their TV contract for the rest of the season - split 13 ways between the 12 existing Premiership clubs and Newcastle, relegated a year ago but now back in the top flight for the 2020-21 season.

"We're also grateful to our sponsors," said Pinchen. "People renewing at this difficult time has given us a real boost.

Based on a figure of £420,000 per game in terms of ticket sales and hospitality, and a further £75,000 from bar and food outlets around the ground at Welford Road, not being able to stage this season's last five home league matches has cost £2.1m - added to which is the loss of commercial income.

"That adds up to a total loss of £5.1m to end of financial year at the end of June," said the club's finance director Fintan Kennedyexternal-link in the same hook-up.

"I'm confident we won't reach a tipping point, but we're planning for all circumstances."

'Players' earning capacity will come down'

The Tigers' conference also involved Geordan Murphy, whose role changes from head coach to director of rugby when England backroom man Steve Borthwick joins on 1 July.

The other member of the panel was head of elite player recruitment, former sports agent Jan McGinity, who stresses that players all around the world know that they now face long-term pay cuts - but says that being honest with them is now the key factor.

"In the last two years, the 12 Premiership clubs have lost a collective £89m," he said. "It has taken this pandemic to take a look and say this can't go on. It's a shame it's come to that. But this has allowed conversations to be had to enable every club to still be here in 50 years' time.

"Ultimately we recognise the value of our players and what players' values are in the global market.

"The earning capacity of a rugby player will come down. But it's not going to put them on the street.

"The current levels of earning outstrip what any player is worth to a club. We have decisions to make. There are going to be some initial conversations. But whether it is about potential redundancies or sponsors having to leave, it is all about transparency. And I don't think players at clubs get a lot of transparency."

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