RFL post loss of £327k after low Challenge Cup final crowd

James Gordon

The RFL made a loss of £327,000 in 2018, which they say was largely due to the low crowd for the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

Details of the loss were revealed at its annual general meeting in Doncaster, where clubs were also told that the adopted budget for 2019 is expected to generate a profit of £207,000 ahead of further projected profits in 2020 and 2021.

A loss of £2m was posted in 2017 when it paid out significant fees for the exit of chief executive Nigel Wood and chief commercial officer Roger Draper.

Catalans’ win over Warrington last August created history and resulted in them being invited to play Wigan at Barcelona’s iconic Nou Camp stadium in Super League earlier this year.

But the governing body caused uproar in the off-season when it asked the three non-member clubs – Catalans, Toronto and Toulouse – to pay a bond, believed to be around half a million pounds, to participate in the 2019 competition.

Toulouse, who didn’t participate last season anyway, and Toronto both declined, while the Dragons’ refusal to go along with the plan resulted in a u-turn and their eventual entry.

The final crowd was 50,672, by far the lowest since the new Wembley Stadium was opened.

The previous season’s final between Hull and Wigan drew a crowd of 68,525, though this was still significantly less than finals in previous years.

The record at the new stadium was set in 2010, when 85,217 saw Warrington beat Leeds.

Meanwhile, Brian Barwick officially stood down as chairman of the RFL and will be replaced by Simon Johnson on an interim basis.

Johnson has been on the RFL board as a non-executive director since 2014.

The AGM also approved the appointment of Tony Adams to the honorary, ceremonial role of President, with Doncaster’s Carl Hall appointed as Vice President.