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Wallabies face 'pay cuts'

Thu, 09 May 2013 13:00
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It is a difficult sponsorship market
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Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver has warned the Wallabies they will have to accept pay cuts in the face of the sport's worsening financial situation.

Pulver issued the warning after revealing that a loss of almost AU$19 million (US$19.35 million) over the past two years will not be offset as much as hoped by next month's British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.

Lions tours have generally been huge money-spinners for Australia, but the June-July Test series will not bring the windfall that was originally expected, Pulver said.

"Sadly there is not as much money coming in from the Lions tour this year as we would have wanted because of a quite difficult sponsorship market," Pulver said in an interview with the ESPNscrum website.

"Historically, we have had these periodic windfalls. Hosting the 2003 Rugby World Cup, and a ton of money came in.

"Every 12 years you have a British and Irish Lions tour and a ton of money comes in.

"Australian rugby has pretty much survived on major windfalls that have covered losses until the next windfall comes in."

Pulver said he was concerned by Australian's financial health and felt top-line players would have to accept reduced salaries to play for the Wallabies for the good of the game.

"The opportunity and the excitement associated with the Wallabies jersey should carry a lot of value," Pulver said. "The lure, power and magnetism of that Wallabies jersey is significant."

Pulver admitted Australian rugby had to do more than reduce player salaries if it was to get back into good financial shape.

"What I'm most concerned about is fan engagement," he said.

"It can be addressed, but turning around revenue is, on the one hand, about winning more at the elite level when 95 percent of your revenue comes from Super Rugby and the Wallabies, and it is also turning the entertainment package around."

Rugby fans "have been slipping away from the game, and we've got to get them back", he said. "We have a fair bit of work to do."

AFP

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