The Directors of Ospreys Rugby Limited have revealed that accounts for 2016/17 show an operating loss of £405,407.
Despite the team competing in the second tier European Rugby Challenge Cup, there was small increase of two per cent in commercial income. This was driven largely by significant growth in matchday ticketing revenue, buoyed in particular by the Christmas derby fixture that drew the biggest crowd at a regional rugby ground in four years.
Over the course of this period, the business welcomed on board a number of new commercial partners, most notably a new kit supplier in Canterbury and a new front of shirt sponsor, Lovell Rugby, both of whom will play a major part in the ongoing commercial success of the business.
However, direct costs have also increased, with the inflation of salaries across the sport continuing to be a major challenge, particularly given the well-documented funding gap compared to other nations, with a year on year increase of 10 per cent on wages despite tight control in this area.
The overall trading loss before tax is £506,494.
Chairman, Roger Blyth, said:
“It continues to be a difficult trading environment with increased costs outstripping the growth in revenue.
“Given that we had missed out on Champions Cup qualification the previous season, the huge growth seen in ticket revenue was extremely pleasing, although the impact was felt in other areas of commercial activity which show a small downturn.
“As highlighted in the 2015/16 accounts, the ongoing financial imbalance in the game continues to have an effect, with English and French clubs continuing to enjoy the benefits of lucrative broadcast and commercial deals while, within what was the PRO12, our Irish, Italian and Scottish counterparts benefit in terms of greater governing body support.
“Moving forward, the introduction of South African clubs to the expanded PRO14 and new competition commercial deals including broadcast income will assist but there remains a substantial deficit to close.
“Likewise, the relationship with the Welsh Rugby Union has been much improved and is far more inclusive. However, discussions aimed at securing increased long-term funding remain ongoing. Resolution of these discussions continue to be a priority for the whole of Welsh rugby.”