RFU faces backlash after asking Twickenham bondholders to write off as much as £ 16,000 in loans to aid the union’s finances as the request is labeled ‘distasteful’
- The Rugby Football Union is struggling to recover its ailing finances after Covid
- They have asked some bondholders to write off loans of up to £ 16,000
- Move is described by some bonds as ‘distasteful’ and ‘unfair’
The Rugby Football Union is facing a backlash from some of its wealthiest supporters after asking Twickenham bondholders to write off loans of up to £ 16,000 to help restore the league’s ailing finances.
Sportsmail has been approached by numerous disaffected fans from England who were unhappy with the Debenture Donation Campaign and accused previous RFU administrations of financial mismanagement.
The donation campaign is an attempt by the RFU to get the 7,500 current bondholders to donate their fees, which cost between £ 9,000 and £ 16,000 for the right to purchase match tickets from Twickenham for a period of 10 years.
The RFU has asked some of its wealthiest supporters to write off loans of up to £ 16,000
Under the terms of the original agreement, they would have to be repaid the full value of their bond loan after 75 years, but the RFU now wants to keep the money to improve their balance sheet.
The RFU has lost around £ 140 million as a result of the pandemic and is seeking to reduce the debt of a bond loan that currently stands at £ 229 million, while also making use of the Gift Aid that can be recovered from donations to the Rugby Football Foundation ( RFF). , their charity trust.
Nearly 1,000 bondholders have confirmed their willingness to write off the loans – by cutting the RFU’s liability by £ 32 million and raising £ 1.4 million for the grassroots game – but more than 6,500 have not and many are not happy to be asked for it.
The Rugby Football Union’s commitment to funding grass-roots rugby is also being questioned
The RFU’s commitment to fund rugby at grassroots level is also being questioned as their support for community coaches has been decimated by the Covid-induced cuts.
“It’s unfair and distasteful,” a bondholder told Sportsmail. “If the RFU had come clean and called for a bailout, I might have agreed, but dressing it up as helping the base is unfair.”
Resentment between the RFU and supporters has been dormant since the East Stand redevelopment, funded by the bonds in 2017, went £ 10 million over budget. “The RFU has over-spent en masse and has a real cheek to ask fans for this money,” said another bondholder. “They’re trying to fix the cracks of their mismanagement.”
Despite such criticism, other bondholders have welcomed the opportunity to help fund the grassroots game without losing their ticket privileges.