Rugby-RFU revenues 120 million pounds below forecasts due to COVID-19

(Reuters) - England's Rugby Football Union (RFU) said in its annual report that revenue for the financial year 2020-21 was 120 million pounds ($160.15 million) less than pre-COVID-19 forecasts and warned it would take "a number of years" to recover.

Revenue for the year was 97 million pounds, the RFU said, down from 167 million pounds in the previous year.

The RFU, which depends on hosting games at Twickenham for 85% of its revenues, suffered a hit as this year's Six Nations was played behind closed doors.

The report added that financial stability was secured through 119 redundancies, a debenture donation programme and emergency finance schemes made available by the government.

"We are in a strong financial position. However, it will take a number of years to recover from underlying losses," RFU's chief financial officer Sue Day said.

"Our cost base will need to remain at current levels while we rebuild reserves, right size our debt and regain certainty over future revenues."

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said the year had been "immensely challenging".

"We have worked harder than ever before to support the professional and community game though the pandemic, with a clearly focused strategic plan to ensure we deliver real benefit and support to the game," he added.

"As we emerge out of COVID, the RFU will continue to take a leadership role in reshaping and improving the game for the benefit of all involved."

($1 = 0.7493 pounds)

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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