The longest screen trilogy since “The Lord of the Rings” came to a happy end tonight when the final part of its annual general meeting was organized by the Scottish Rugby Union.
By way of the pandemic, all three parts took place, with the first part being put back in August. Part one took place in August and discussed, among other items, the election of SRU officials, while part two saw a vote by the member clubs on two motions at the end of last month expressing their reservations about the union’s governance. Part two also dealt with some of the financial details of the Party, but because the accounts were not audited at that time, part three was required last night so that once they were audited, delegates could vote on the financial statements for the 2019-20 year.
That is what they did, with almost 96 percent of the votes in favor of ratification, during the nearly hour-long session. It was a customary and anticipated result that brought a harmonious end to the three-part meeting.
But although the financial statements have never been accepted, serious concerns remain as to how and when the SRU will recover from the pandemic’s economic effects. Chief Executive Officer Mark Dodson, backed by a bank lending facility, a multi-million pound investment in PRO14 by private equity company CVC and a total of £ 20 million in grants and loans coming from the Scottish government, has so far been able to stick to his pledge that the Union will prevent redundancies.
In the years ahead, these income sources will provide the SRU with some warmth. But if the game is to go beyond simply supporting its defense and rising again, spectators will have to return to the games, especially the BT Murrayfield international games.
Dodson had expressed hope that crowds of around 25,000 would be possible at the national stadium for next year’s Six Nations matches against Ireland, Wales and Italy before Covid drop numbers started to grow again and governments introduced tougher restrictions. However, he admitted after the meeting yesterday that changing conditions make it less likely that such large crowds would be possible.
“Given what has happened with this potential third wave, the prospect of a significant crowd at the Six Nations this year is put on the back burner,” he said. We thought that 25,000 spectators was very probable at the time we were talking about it, the same as England, the same as Wales, the same as anyone else. But I think we’ve seen a new environment for Covid.
“Are we really expecting to get crowds at the Six Nations? At the end of the Six Nations, two of our three home games are at the end of March, so we may have a better chance than at the beginning of February. But as time goes on, I can probably give you more details.
His primary reaction, and that of his colleagues, was undoubtedly relief last night, though Dodson maintains some hope in that regard. The accounts were audited months later than they should have been, and this significant annual occurrence ended four months later than usual, but the SRU may finally draw a line under the matter.
The most important thing is that our financial position is stable, regardless of the lack of spectator numbers at the Six Nations, thanks to the refinancing we have accomplished by 2022,”The most important thing is that, regardless of a lack of spectator numbers at the Six Nations, our financial position is secure because of the refinancing we have achieved through 2022,”