London Wasps, Worcester Warriors and Gloucester are among the Gallagher Premiership clubs that have implemented 25% pay cut on their players due to the postponement of professional rugby in the coronavirus outbreak.
Sale Sharks are also set to hold meetings with their players, according to ESPN sources, while a number of the Premiership’s other clubs are also weighing up the cost-cutting measure with rugby’s top flight postponed until April 24 at the earliest.
Wasps chief executive Stephen Vaughan said in a statement: “I spoke with Lee Blackett and senior members of the playing squad last night, and we then communicated this message to the wider team and colleagues. I could not be more proud of their response, understanding and determination to help the Club in such testing times.”
“These are extraordinary times which call for extraordinary and robust measures. We do not know with any certainty how long these reductions will be in place, but we will review the situation on an ongoing basis and continue to keep the entire Wasps family up to date with developments.”
Some lower paid staff were excluded from the wage cuts at both Wasps and Worcester.
It is widely accepted that the current hiatus is likely to be extended. With matchday income generating roughly a third of the clubs’ income, radical cost-cutting measures are being considered and, in some cases, set to be implemented. Just one of the Premiership’s 12 clubs turned a profit last year with the league’s clubs making a collective loss of £50 million.
As this is a breach of contract, players will have to agree to the proposals. Sources have told ESPN that players spent Thursday talking to agents and legal representatives to evaluate their options, but there is a level of desperation at certain clubs to bring this measure in immediately to prevent them from heading into a financial spiral.
The Rugby Players’ Association board held an emergency call Thursday, with CEO Damian Hopley telling the BBC: “Our advice is that players hear what the clubs have to say and then we will consider a collective position across the league.”