SRU forced into U-turn as Mark Dodson & Co agree to salary cuts

Chief executive takes 25% loss as union announces sliding scale of reductions

Mark Dodson acknowledged that Scotland’s summer tour will probably be cancelled, while there is also doubt over the Autumn Tests.

So, the penny appears to have dropped for Scottish Rugby after chief executive Mark Dodson was heavily criticised last week over the response to the financial effect of the coronavirus crisis.

He announced that he, top executives and the three top coaches of Scotland, Gregor Townsend, Edinburgh’s Richard Cockerill, and outgoing Glasgow coach Dave Rennie would be taking wage “deferrals” not cuts of 25 per cent and, in his own case, 30 per cent until December.

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That changed yesterday as the scale of impact the coronavirus crisis is likely to wreak on the sport emerges on a daily basis.

A £12 million loss in revenue is now being factored if the three-match November series against Japan, Argentina and New Zealand at BT Murrayfield is scrapped.

Top-earning executives and players will take pay cuts, while a number of the union’s 450-plus employees will be furloughed “in line with the government scheme and aligned with other companies across the UK”.

According to an initial BBC report via what appears to be leaked emails, the union was quoted as saying “every player in Scotland earning more than £50,000 will be asked to take a salary cut of 10-25 per cent until September, while Dodson’s 30 per cent deferral is now being described as a “reduction”.

Nobody from the Scottish Rugby press office returned calls from print media 
yesterday.

The union is said to have acted due to the “increasing unpredictability” in the game amid the world Covid-19 pandemic outbreak

Other executives will take a 25 per cent cut, and a consultation is underway about a sliding scale of cuts beyond that.

There are 157 professionally contracted players on Scottish rugby’s books from top Test stars, pro-team players, Sevens and Women’s squad and Super 6 and the suggestion in the BBC report was that any earning more than £50,000 will be asked to reduce their wages on a “sliding scale”.

Those earning up to £75,000 would lose 10 per cent, those on £75,000-£100,000 would lose 15 per cent and from £100,000-£200,000 20 per cent and the select few earning above would lose 25 per cent.

“It is because our projected incomes have fallen so sharply, coupled with the increasing unpredictability of any further resumption of any rugby worldwide, that we have to cut costs through this upcoming period,” wrote Dodson in a leaked email to SRU staff.

“The furloughing of staff and salary reductions for senior people reflect the seriousness of the situation.”

In the email, Dodson admitted that Scotland’s summer tour to South Africa and New Zealand is “almost certain not to take place”.

The BBC reported that SRU board chairman Colin Grassie also said there is “developing uncertainty” that the autumn Tests planned against Japan, New Zealand and Argentina “will go ahead as originally planned”.

Unlike other unions, Scotland were able to stage both their Six Nations Tests, against England and France.

The first Covid-19 death in Scotland was a French rugby fan, who fell ill near Haymarket and sadly died ahead of the 28-17 win by the home side at BT Murrayfield on 8 March.

Ireland v Italy, Italy v England and France v Ireland in the Six Nations were postponed in the face of the virus and so too, on the eve of the fixture, was Scotland’s final match against Wales in Cardiff.

Scotland Women also had their Six Nations wiped out after their match against Italy in the country’s hard-hit north was postponed, that nation having announced its first two deaths on the eve of that match in Legnano, near Milan.

One Scotland Women player tested positive for the virus but is believed to be recovering well.

In his personally-penned statement, Dodson added: “We have as a Board agreed to cut our fees by 25 per cent until at least 1 September 2020.

“I have volunteered to cut my salary by 30 per cent until at least 1 September 2020 and this has been accepted by the Board. Executive directors have also volunteered to cut their salaries by 25 per cent until at least 1st September 2020 and this has been accepted by the Board.

“Myself and my fellow executive directors have additionally volunteered to waive annual bonus entitlements for the financial year 2019-2020.

“We are taking forward proposals to furlough a proportion of our staff in line with the government scheme and aligned with other companies across the UK. Scottish Rugby will consult with all players and identified staff on a salary reduction programme focused on our higher-earning employees and players.

Dodson concluded: “No one knows with any certainty when any rugby can resume.

“We have seen many, many examples of our staff, clubs and players across the country supporting their local communities and demonstrating rugby’s values in daily life.

“Rugby makes a positive contribution to society and it is this positivity and our whole sport working collectively that will give us the best opportunity to come through this crisis, safely, together.

“With best wishes and please stay safe and healthy.”

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