Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Steve Phillips says it is “too early to quantify” the full impact of Covid-19 after the WRU Group announced a loss of £5.3million.
Phillips revealed the WRU had hoped for a break-even result for the year ending June 30, 2020.
But the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has hit hard, affecting rugby in Wales as it has done countries worldwide.
With crowds currently not allowed into stadia and the Principality Stadium in Cardiff retained as a field hospital until next year, Wales are set to play their autumn Tests at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli.
Those four home fixtures begin with a delayed Six Nations game against Scotland on October 31.
The WRU Group turned over £79.9m during the year, but its annual report describes how 78 per cent of income is derived from staging international matches featuring the Wales team and commercial activities associated with it.
The postponement of the Scotland match in Cardiff seven months ago amounted to a deficit of £8.1m, while income was also affected by an absence of other planned events such as Judgement Day, which features Wales’ four PRO14 regional teams, and a concert by the German band Rammstein.
Responding to the coronavirus crisis, the Group reduced costs by alleviating non-essential capital, reducing staff salaries and utilising the Government Coronavirus Job Retention scheme.
WRU Group turned over £79.9m during YE20 and was able to limit retained losses to £5.3m despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
'We can be proud of what we've achieved so far… but there is also much hard work ahead' – CEO PHILLIPS
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) October 12, 2020
Phillips said: “Managing the impact of Covid-19 down to a £5.3m deficit would not have been possible without the efforts of the board, our commercial partners and the wider rugby family.
“We had expected to show a break-even result for the current year and were on track to achieve this up until the business and economic disruption that was caused by the pandemic.
“Its impact on the Group has meant an unanticipated loss, but we expect to be able to retain profits over the medium term to be able to offset this loss and return net assets to previous levels.
“However, it is too early to quantify the full impact of the Covid–19 pandemic on future financial performance, and the Group will continue to closely monitor the developing situation.
“We are delighted that international rugby will return this autumn, but the prospect of playing without spectators has an obvious and directly negative influence on our ability to generate revenue.
“We have contingencies plans in place – for example, for the prospect of home matches in the 2021 Guinness Six Nations having to be played in front of part-capacity crowds due to social distancing – but no crowds will present severe challenges.
“We can be proud of what we have achieved so far, but there is also much hard work ahead, just as there is for all in the sports, leisure and entertainment industries as we continue to navigate through the uncertainties arising from the current pandemic.”