Ever-swelling coffers and success on the pitch – at pro-team level at least – was set to be the central narrative put forward to member clubs at today’s annual general meeting of the Scottish Rugby Union at BT Murrayfield.
As the riches continue to roll in from the lucrative sponsorship deal struck with BT last year – which included naming rights for the national stadium – the Annual Report will show a record £44.2 million turnover, achieved through £513,000 income growth on a previous financial year which yielded £43.7m. Just five years ago, the turnover was £33.6m.
It is a far cry from the dark days of ten years ago when the organisation was creaking under the burden of a debt believed to be in excess of £25m. By contrast, chief executive Mark Dodson will today report that the union’s average debt has now dropped below £10m.
The health of the balance sheet amid what the SRU still considers to have been “a challenging financial year” has led to significant investment in the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy system and greater support for the domestic game through a £1.6m Club Sustainability Fund.
While, at the international level, a promising autumn Test series campaign gave way to a disappointing whitewash in the RBS Six Nations to stall momentum in World Cup year, history was made at pro-team level as Glasgow Warriors soared to a Guinness PRO12 title win and Edinburgh reached the European Challenge Cup final.
The bitter pill of a Wooden Spoon was sweetened by the fact that ticket sales at BT Murrayfield broke the £10m barrier.
Today’s motions will include the proposal from the Governance Working Party to increase the terms of SRU president and vice-president from one to two years from 2016 onwards. There will also be a push, proposed by Hillhead-Jordanhill RFC, seconded by Stewart’s Melville FP, that there should be no competitive adult domestic rugby on the same day as a home Scotland fixture in the Six Nations, thus eliminating any “clash of loyalties”.
Glasgow Hawks, seconded by Cartha QP, have moved to direct the SRU’s Board and Council to delay the implementation of proposed changes to the structure of youth and schools competitions as presented by the union until a “full and proper consultation process” has been undertaken.
Ian Rankin’s presidency will come to an end today as his successor Ed Crozier of Cartha QP is ratified in the post. The election for a new vice-president will be a contest between Ian Barr of Lasswade and Boroughmuir’s Rob Flockhart.