The RFU’s turnover of £71.3million for 2003/04 was close to last year’s record turnover of £72.4million, but Twickenham only hosted three major international matches in 2003/04 as opposed to six the previous year because of the Rugby World Cup.
The shortfall of match revenue from the usual autumn internationals, around £5.6million, and hosting only two RBS Six Nations games, resulting in a further £2.7million loss, was virtually compensated for by good performances in the RFU’s commercial and hospitality business.
The RFU’s operating profit of £13.5million was £2million higher than the 2001/02 figure and £4.9million down on 2002/03.
Revenue in the RFUs ‘Rugby Store’ rose by over 90 per cent to £7.7million, including sales of more than £1million in one calendar month in December 2003 – following England’s World Cup triumph - when £1.7million of goods were sold.
The RFU’s hospitality business enjoyed good sales compared to previous seasons with 4,200 packages sold for England v Ireland compared to 2,706 for the same fixture in 2002.
Other income included more than £600,000 for hosting the Rolling Stones concerts held in August and September 2003 and a similar amount from the England Rugby Supporters Club, whose 22,000 membership is rising by more than 800 per month.
All contributed to offsetting the RFUs loss of three major internationals last year.
Francis Baron, chief executive of the RFU, said: “The positive effects of winning the Rugby World Cup and the boost it has given to participation levels complement the statement I made last year that we have an excellent foundation from which we can fully exploit the commercial opportunities over the next few years. I fully expect that our new sponsorship deals will generate increases of around 20% plus per deal in the future.
Finance director, Nick Eastwood, said: “Our revenues and operating profit remain very high in a tough and competitive market. We have been able to ensure that our contribution to our member clubs and constituent bodies is around 40 per cent up on those made in 2002. Now that we have a full programme of major home internationals to look forward to our aim now is to produce stronger figures next year.
“We announced last August that the RFU was debt free [WDR: ie, it has NO bank charges] and we will be focussing a great deal of financial resources into the funding of the South Stand re-development which should be operational by the autumn of 2007.”
Baron said: “We budgeted to win the Grand Slam. The difference between that - receiving 5.5 percent of the TV and sponsorship pool - and coming fourth, where the share is just two percent, was £1m.”
However, the RFU may be able to boost income from its Twickenham stadium, with delays on construction of the new Wembley Stadium potentially pushing more music concerts to the traditional rugby venue.