More than half of the Gallagher Premiership clubs are preparing to ask their players to take a 25% pay cut due to the postponement of professional rugby in the coronavirus outbreak, sources have told ESPN.
Gloucester and Sale Sharks are 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.
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.”