Record RFU Revenues Bankroll Redevelopment

The RFU will battle again with Twickenham residents and El Brute’s Planning Committee after it announced plans to redevelop the East Stand (the Rugby Road side) to increase corporate hospitality at the stadium. A heated debate at the recent planning meeting led to the Union’s plans to hold a Monster Jam at the home of rugby being sent back for further assessment of the environmental impact, as reported here on twickerati.

Last week’s RFU Council meeting revealed a £54 million proposal to extend the East Stand by 23,000 sq m across six floors for hospitality, conference events and food and drinks. Coming not long after spending £75m on upgrading the facilities for the Rugby World Cup, the scheme is the result of “a comprehensive review of ticketing and hospitality”, which highlighted problems of entertaining guests in areas some distance from their match seats. Here at <em>twickerati</em> we assume that the new suites will rectify this appalling situation, and corporate types will have to stagger now no more than a few yards from their lunch of beef fillet and Chateau Lafitte to their seats to fall asleep during matches.

What may worry locals the most is that the hospitality will be a “highly exclusive top-end offering akin to the Diamond Club at Arsenal”. Comparisons to the round ball game will raise the hackles of Twick-folk who are still in the dark over Chelsea Football Club’s approach to the RFU to play at the stadium while their Stamford Bridge home is redeveloped, plans for which were submitted this week. Former Twickenham MP Vince Cable told the RFU when first approached that they risked throwing away “a decade of carefully accumulated goodwill” from residents.

Twickenham Stadium

Twickenham Stadium

Where all the money comes from to pay for these investments is no secret with the Union boasting increased revenues of £208 million this year, up more than £50 million from the previous year, and before the £15 million profit from Rugby World Cup is taken into account. Despite England’s humiliating early exit from the World Cup, being the only host nation never to have made the knockout rounds, RFU Chief Executive Ian Ritchie’s package of £600,000 makes him one of the highest paid executives in British sport, and not just Ritchie by name. Criticism of the Union’s opulence and Ritchie’s tenure has come from its own Councillors, with concerns voiced about the effect of England’s early bath on grass-roots rugby clubs that are struggling for cash and retention of players.

Residents might be anxious that the plans to increase hospitality will not only lead to nine months’ disruption while the building work goes on, but a further widening of the gap between local rugby fans and those actually attending matches. While unlikely to be the types who pee in residents’ gardens after the match, the VIP cars bringing and collecting corporate hospitality-goers will only increase congestion on match days.

The designs for the redevelopment of the East Stand must go through regular El Brute planning procedures and residents will have to be consulted, a process that could take six to nine months. If approved, work is likely to start from December 2016 but would not disrupt or reduce the capacity of the ground for Tests.

[Contributor: Bill Webb-Ellis]


Filed under Local Issues & News

4 responses to “Record RFU Revenues Bankroll Redevelopment

  1. Sally

    Oh noooo
    Please, we must wake up. The RFU is a vast lucrative business lucky enough to be able to hide behind the traditions of a game . It wants to make the stadium bigger and bigger and to pack more and more in as often as possible; they do not give a stuff what we think. Why should they care? The odd faux concerned,”lessons will be learned” statement and our leaders are prone with gratitude. Why should they care? They have Lord True and co accepting gifts worth thousands of pounds. Do you think our council would ever say no?
    If only we had a council who acknowledged the eye watering profits made by the RFU, knocked back the freebies and put them firmly on the back foot. We could start with what they cost us..
    They are making millions and most of our local shops are losing money with every event.. We are losing money and -it isn’t the RFU bosses out there with a broom sweeping up sick after yet another lucrative match.
    I await another PR pamphlet from the RFU with photos of rugby gods , a misty riverside morning and a member of our council simpering and shaking hands. The RFU, the text will read, is very good for Twickenham and they care about you too..

    • illiad1

      I do sympathise, but living next to the stadium is very much like living in Harmondsworth or Colnbrook.. look it up 🙂

  2. illiad1

    and while you are talking about the rugby stand, make sure the Twickenham riverside is not ‘killed by ignorance’ – only 200 views have been posted 😦

    • Purple Haze

      A lot of local people have said they don’t give a monkey’s anymore because they are totally fed up with the Council and RFU constantly imposing their unpopular development projects on the town.
      They feel powerless when it comes to trying to change things or make a difference. People debate, protest and even offer alternative solutions, but why pick a fight you can’t win?
      The only recent victory was to get the Council to abandon the Gloriana project which was a spectacular waste of money and resources anyway, especially in the current economic climate.
      And whatever happened to all the other vanity projects associated with finding it a home in Kingston, Brentford or wherever?
      Ian Ritchie, RFU Chief Executive, said earlier this year: “As far as World Rugby is concerned, the Rugby World Cup is all about garnering money, [and] the profit from the event will go directly into global investment in rugby to grow the game” .
      So now you know.