With the ‘click of a button’ news that Manu Tuilagi and others had been released by the Leicester Tigers quickly reinforced the Covid19 aftermath. As salaries and earnings were reduced at Premiership Rugby clubs, the concessions given (and taken), have cost much.
At the Leicester Tigers organization, up to 31 members of staff have needed to be sacrificed in the face of massive cost savings. As well, players had been asked to firstly, face 25% wage reductions.
Yet now, after three months of dormant rugby-business, clubs need to make harsh calls – and Manu Tuilagi and some other players who had not been convinced of the club’s sanctions. And according to reports, have been confirmed as ‘victims’ of the rugby Coronavirus economic reaction.
Manu Tuilagi and others ‘released’ by Leicester Tigers
In a media statement that began by stating ‘The Club’s commercial activities have felt the pandemic’s impact more than most Premiership Rugby clubs’. It directly pointed to approximately £5 million of revenues lost since it was last able to host matchdays or events at Welford Road, the Tigers have needed to be firm but fair.
‘Difficult decisions have had to be made, including salary reductions, reduced working time and using the furlough scheme as well as a redundancy process which concludes today’. That final inference is related to player contracts, and here, the club states ‘in addition, a small number of players will leave Tigers to seek new opportunities elsewhere.
We wish them well for the future.
Tigers asserted in their media statement that ‘the players were asked to accept reduced wages and, following feedback, we created a mechanism through which a proportion of forgone earnings could be reclaimed when the Club returns to profitability. At the same time, salaries of lower-paid players beginning their professional careers were protected.
‘In common with other Club employees, these changes resulted from detailed explanations of the Club’s financial position and the necessity of the measures being taken.
‘Our focus throughout this crisis has been to put the Club first and to ensure the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of Tigers. The vast majority of players fully support our recovery plans and will be working with Geordan Murphy and Steve Borthwick on the way forward, beginning with the phased return to training and proposed resumption of the 2019/20 season.
A Leicester statement on Wednesday morning had confirmed a ‘small number’ of players would be leaving the Tigers. It was a sudden shock, and would have left players reeling – looking to the heavens, and feeling as vulnerable as the rest of the community have been [as Covid19 takes hold].
Several Leicester Tigers players dropped due to Covid19
Media outlets and specifically, RugbyPass.com soon printed that ‘asked to name the departing players, Pinchen told Leicester’s club website: “Our fans deserve to know: Manu Tuilagi, Telusa Veainu, Greg Bateman, Noel Reid, and Kyle Eastmond.”
If one or more individuals have been released, therefore, the financial reductions may ultimately help the longterm survival of the Tigers. Tough calls, as is it whenever a player is dropped from the team sheet, or from the wages bill.
On the field, and in the Gallagher Premiership fight, those decisions may also come back to bite the club. Holding, and in fact positively aiming to retain talent like Manu Tuilagi could be a cost that the Tigers may find harder to repair over the short term.
Andrea Pinchen was quoted as saying, “If we do play behind closed doors until January, we realized we needed to make some real big cuts, that are, let’s be honest, primarily wrapped up in players’ salaries.”
It appears now that, Manu Tuilagi and others have been ones who may not have wanted to work with those cuts. A tough business, European rugby clubs act first, and fans must digest the actions later.
To date, a planned August 14 restart to the Premiership has been established. The ‘staged’ return begins now, with training and player fitness tests beginning now.
That is a bright note. On the other hand, an unfortunate outcome for all the financial measures taken by clubs means Tuilagi and others have been sadly left redundant.
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