Rugby: Edinburgh reap benefits of game’s financial position

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson has re-affirmed the oval ball game is in good financial heart when addressing the issue of £22 million of undefined “other operating income” which has helped produce a seven-figure surplus.

Latest accounts, as approved by Saturday’s annual general meeting at Murrayfield, make reference to the £22m without appearing to specify where this sum comes from.

However, a relaxed Dodson told the Evening News: “There is undisclosed income. I can (if necessary) give a breakdown of what it is . . . it is just a headline for other stuff that doesn’t come under the main headlines of turnover.”

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Later an SRU communications official sought to bring clarification, saying the monies came from areas such as broadcasting, ticket revenue and sponsorship albeit the first two areas are covered in the accounts while Dodson himself indicated that Edinburgh’s run to the semi-final of the Heineken European Cup had brought a windfall.

However, Dodson was particularly keen to stress that much of the Euro prize money had been reinvested in the Edinburgh squad while elaborating on what he told the meeting regarding “greater autonomy” for the professional team.

Said Dodson: “We paid out in bonuses to the Edinburgh squad. They did well out of that and so they should have, they did really well.

“Also, if you look at signings WP Nel, Isaak van der Westhuizen, Greg Tonks, Dmitiri Basilaia and Ben Atiga you can see how much has been reinvested back in that squad.

“It (Euro prize cash) all helped to pay for that. It went back into the club.”

And he volunteered: “We are trying to find a new home for Edinburgh. That is one of our targets. Edinburgh deserve a place of their own. Murrayfield is a national stadium and, although it is great for Edinburgh to play there, I’d love Edinburgh to have their own clubhouse and ground.”

Asked about the timescale Dodson, replied: “I’m confident we will have something to talk about in the next 12 months.”

On the subject of greater autonomy for Edinburgh and Glasgow teams, Dodson revealed: “We are getting a partnership agreement with Edinburgh where they are going to be managed through our partnership agreement where they have more autonomy.

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“(Domestic Rugby boss) Colin Thomson is going to manage that partnership agreement from the SRU perspective and it will be down to Edinburgh chief executive Craig Docherty and coach Michael Bradley to run their own business and to make sure they can drive into other revenues.

“They will have a set budget (£4.2m) and set revenue targets from us. They will have the ability to chose their own people, their own playing staff.

“And it gets away from that perception that there is a heavy hand at Murrayfield holding Edinburgh and Glasgow to account.

“We want to devolve as much power as we can and we want to devolve power to (traditional) clubs where they don’t have the resources to stand up.”

The chief executive acknowledged that an increase in monies paid to traditional clubs of £273,000 up to £4.494m would be seen by many as insufficient considering the £19m lavished on the international and professional game.

Dodson said: “It’s not enough to clubs. We need to put more money into the club game and create a virtuous circle where when we do better at club level that translates to more silverware and sponsorship which translates into a better international team which brings us more money to invest at grassroots. In tough economic circumstances and a hard time to generate new money, we have increased our turnover by just over £3m.”

There was similar candour on the question of ensuring that further recent Scottish tour successes were carried over into what many regard as more meaningful encounters at World Cup and Six Nations level.

“The Autumn Tests do have meaning and are not just one-off,” he said in a clear reference to ranking points that decide further World Cup seedings before admitting: “People want to see us do well in the Six Nations.”

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A whitewash last season was obviously hard to swallow and Dodson stated: “Five defeats this year were very hard to take and it became harder as it went on. I accept the challenge we have is to win in the Six Nations.

“If we don’t, we have to go back to first principles. I have a very highly-paid, highly-qualified coaching group, highly-paid individuals on and off the pitch. “We all have to look at ourselves but there can be consequences for winning and for losing.

“We should all share in wins and all take responsibility for defeats.”