Exeter chiefs have revealed they are failing to repay government loans and intend to sell a ‘non-rugby related asset’ to secure the club’s financial future.
The club has called an extraordinary general meeting (AGE) for November 30 where approval will be sought.
“Following the decision by the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby Limited to continue playing behind closed doors during the Covid-19 pandemic, Exeter Rugby Club have been forced to borrow large backed loans by the government to pay our players and staff,” read a statement. Exeter Chiefs Friday afternoon.
“Government funding was not in the form of grants, but interest-bearing loans. These are no longer reimbursed and the income from our normal business activities is not sufficient to pay these and all other expenses.
“As a result, the Rugby Club Board has decided to sell one of our non-rugby related assets which requires member approval and is being sought at an extraordinary general meeting at Sandy Park. Wednesday, November 30.
“That should be more than enough to see the club repay the loans and be financially secure for the future.”
In August this year, Telegraph Sport revealed that the amount of taxpayers’ money pouring into Premiership clubs due to the pandemic had more than doubled initial estimates to a combined total of £124m.
Since then, Worcester Warriors and Wasps have gone into administration and been kicked out of this season’s competition.
In the latest set of accounts to be published by Exeter Rugby Group PLC, drawn up to June 30, 2021, the book value of a loan from Sport England was £6,816.00. It has an interest rate of 2%, with its last payment due March 31, 2021.
In the accounts of Exeter Rugby Club limited, a strategic report mentioned the need to process the loans.
“There was very little government support for the hospitality industry other than rate relief and the furlough scheme and we made full use of the latter to protect the wages of our staff while they were unable to work,” we read.
“No grant income was available to us, but we were able to take advantage of various government-backed loans and these will need to be repaid over the coming years.”
Following Exeter’s away loss to Northampton, head coach Ali Hepher was asked if the asset for sale was the club’s hotel at Sandy Park, but he remained silent, saying: “I can’t comment on that.”
Although Hepher said the Exeter Players Group had found out when the statement was released, he insisted there was no panic in the squad.
He said: “To be honest, we are very lucky to be such a good club. The vibe is never different from this, there is no panic or worry.
“It’s obviously tough times but these are tough times across the world and across the country so the guys have just been focused on the rugby side of things, we’ve got our hands full with that so we’re going to continue to focus on that – it’s pretty easy.
“But the board have been running the best rugby club for years, and they will continue to do so. They are absolutely quality and know how to run a business.
“They are doing what is best for the company and the rugby club going forward.”