Steve Lansdown: Bristol owner urges Premiership Rugby to generate more revenue

Bristol Bears owner Steve Lansdown (right) also owns Bristol City Football Club

Bristol Bears owner Steve Lansdown says Premiership Rugby (PRL) needs to do more to help clubs struggling to boost revenue.

Meanwhile, Worcester has until Monday to prove they can keep going.

“What the PRL needs to do is generate trading revenue or new revenue and improve the offering we put out there to attract other investors to the sport,” he said.

Clubs are more than £500m in debt following the Covid-19 pandemic and between them owe around £35m to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Lansdowne – who has given the Bears around £50m personally – says the lockout and playing behind closed doors “exacerbated the problem” for England’s elite clubs.

“There is not enough money in the game,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“All clubs derive their income mainly from ticket sales, central income and commercial income.

“Central income has gone down over the last few years due to Covid and lack of playing, matchday income has obviously gone off the cliff with Covid and commercial income has not gone up.

the clubs In December 2018 it agreed to sell a minority stake in Premiership Rugby to CVC Capital Partners, the private equity firm pledged to invest more than £200 million in the competition.

The Wasps’ debts stem from their inability to repay the £35m they helped fund their move from London to Coventry in 2014.

But Worcester faces a winding-up application from HMRC over a £6m unpaid tax bill and must pay back £14m in government loans taken out during the pandemic.

“We had the funding through the pandemic, but of course it’s in the form of a loan, so that’s one of the issues Worcester is dealing with,” added Lansdowne.

“When you borrow money, you have to have the ability to pay it back, or you have to have the ability to move it or turn it into equity.

“Honestly, if the funding is free, it’s welcome, but you don’t expect anything for anything in this life.

“We have an agreement with CVC, but to date that has been a bit disappointing to be honest, but hopefully we’ll see it improve in the future.”

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