First of all, everybody needs to look at the above video of the RRW Press Conference at Cardiff Arms Park. It provides a number of useful pieces of information (not least on the breakdown of the money the WRU pays the four professional teams) and shows the quality of the questioning offered by many sections of the Welsh Media.
I may have missed it, but I’m yet to see a mainline paper running the story of how the professional game is financed in Wales. After all, we’re told by the Media that this present stand-off is all about money so why not break the story of where the money comes from and what it is for?
In particular, that press conference delivered us the following gem:
“Lets be clear about the £6m first and foremost. The £6m is not for player release. They use that in their statements, but if you look at our Participation Agreement signed in 2009, there is a split in there about what player release is. Out of the £6m, £2.7m is a core grant. Another £2.4m is to keep the non-Welsh qualified player quota down under an agreed limit. Player release is about less than £1.5m, so don’t be misled by statements that say £6m is being paid for player release.“
Those are the words of Stuart Gallacher and explain to us, in a nutshell, the entire financial problem at the top end of the game. It shows that each of the four receive under £400,000 per annum for losing their better players to Wales for approximately half of the season. That’s all players, too, including sevens and under 20s, for weeks upon weeks.
Now, not only are those players unavailable to generate income for their employers whilst they are away, but they also require their salary to be paid (and they are often the highest earners at each pro team) AND they require a professional player to be paid to play in their position whilst they are away. A triple blow. And all for £375,000 per annum.
To provide some context for that figure, please read the following:
That’s right, what the WRU pay for all of that player access won’t even cover the wages of one Jonny Sexton. Or, for some more context, the RFU are paying their players £15,000 PER TEST: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/jan/17/england-players-new-pay-deal
We can all pick a side on how the game should be financed, run and controlled, but nobody can justify the WRU paying so little for player access.
So there are two obvious questions which come from this revelation yet our press has picked up neither (unsurprisingly):
Question 1: if RRW can reveal this information in a press conference they are happy to be recorded and played on the Ospreys website, why the hell can’t RRW produce a website which includes the entire Participation Agreement? That way, we can all make a judgement for ourselves.
Question 2: the WM have confirmed that they are in favour of Central Contracts. The WRU have confirmed that they are in favour of Central Contracts. Many of the Welsh public are in favour of Central Contracts. But where will the money come from? If the WRU are presently paying only £1.5m a year for player access then that will allow them to contract five James Hooks and nobody else! Also, what is a Central Contract? As Hore points out, SANZAR Unions all run different models, as do Ireland. So how can our wonderful press be in favour of something that seemingly cannot be afforded and, as yet, hasn’t been detailed?
Both sides – give us the information so that we can decide.