The Tension Born Of Funding Imbalances

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24 January 2018 by Mark Evans, Capacity Consulting

There is a conflict of interest running through all professional sports, including both codes of rugby. At any point in time a sport only has a certain amount of revenue to distribute to the competing stakeholders; along with any equity, debt or grant funding that may be available from private capital or government. In simple terms the question is this –how much should be allocated to performance (paying and supporting the players), how much should go to grassroots of the community game and how much should be invested in overheads, facilities and promotional activities? The debates over the options are never ending.

In sports that are essentially participatory, fencing or swimming for example, it is much simpler. Generally a small number of elite athletes, along with a participation programme, are funded by the state (through UK Sport and/or Sport England) which requires the governing body to reach certain pre-set targets in order to maintain or increase their funding levels. In addition the people who play the game pay a variety of fees and charges for membership, facilities, equipment etc. But sports such as rugby-that generate revenue through the monetisation of a reasonably large audience, either in person or through some form of media, are in a very different position. Then there is a “debate” over control of the distribution of funds.

Take spectator sports where players do not get paid much at all. Gaelic football and hurling in Ireland or

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