The Rugby Football League have revealed that it will report a loss of £2.029 million for 2017 – but they insist a surplus is expected this year.
The governing body insist that a loss was budgeted for and approved by the RFL as they recognised 2017 would be a difficult financial year – but that it would need to continue to invest in a number of areas.
Significant investment was made in the international set-up to maximise the opportunity of a World Cup on home soil in 2021, in off-field systems and infrastructure to benefit the entire game, while there were also significant funds provided though Sport England and invested directly into frontline programme delivery to boost participation.
A year in which England also had no home international fixtures, 2017 saw significant investment to give all national programmes the best chance of success on the international stage. An effective and widely commended England Unit was created, a successful and valuable mid-season test against Samoa completed and the England Men’s Senior Team reached the final of the World Cup, narrowly losing to hosts Australia in the final.
The year end result also reflects an increased focus in transforming the sport off the field with significant investment in technology and systems that bring the vast majority of operations online, best placed for the future and ready to make returns on that investment from 2018 onwards.
Following its 2017 settlement and a change in Sport England’s funding strategy, the Rugby Football League reduced the funding of back office costs and increased funding directly into frontline programme delivery by £670,000 to support increased participation in the sport.
The 2017 loss includes all costs incurred by the Rugby Football League following a restructure of its Senior Executive team and following a reduction in the valuation of Odsal Stadium by almost £400,000, in line with required accounting practices.
With a home series against New Zealand in the autumn of 2018 and improved commercial deals secured in the first quarter of this year, the Rugby Football League is budgeted to return its planned significant surplus in 2018.
The annual accounts will be published in full later this year following approval by the Rugby Football League Council.