London, 25 November 2022 – Commenting on the DCMS select committee special evidence session into the state of rugby union since the collapse of Wasps and Worcester rugby clubs, The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland (CGIUKI) said:
Rugby clubs are an important part of sporting, cultural and community life and must be protected from inadequate and damaging stewardship.
The safeguards in place to ensure appropriate ownership and responsible financial management in these clubs were insufficient and must be reformed to prevent future maladministration. Rugby is not the only sport to face these issues. Lessons could have been easily picked up by looking at the travails of football to predict the dire consequences of poor oversight and financial mishandling.
Stringent application of a robust fit and proper persons test, along with periodic reassessment of the suitability of owners and directors to continue in their roles, is essential. The criteria which form this test and the sanctions available to the bodies charged with its application will be key to its efficacy.
As high-profile clubs can also be seen as attractive assets internationally, rugby clubs also need to anticipate their attempted acquisition by owners whose suitability may not be addressed by the standards stipulated in a directors and owners test.
Rugby should look to recent experience in football. A club could be purchased by individuals who become subject to sanctions imposed at a government level rather than by a league, national governing body or regulator. Consideration should also be given to a subjective test of whether an owner or potential owner may present a reputational risk for the club or the wider game.
We welcome the independent review to improve financial sustainability in the game. It is essential that clubs are run prudently, transparently and with accountability. We await with interest the outcome of this review and hope that its recommendations will help to place rugby clubs on a more secure financial footing.
For further information, please contact David Mortimer, Head of External Affairs
+44 (0)7950 276 648
The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland is the professional body for governance and the qualifying and membership body for governance professionals across all sectors. Its purpose under Royal Charter is to lead ‘effective governance and efficient administration of commerce, industry and public affairs’ working with regulators and policy makers to champion high standards of governance and providing qualifications, training and guidance. As a lifelong learning partner, the Institute helps governance professionals to achieve their professional goals, providing recognition, community and the voice of its membership.
One of nine divisions of the global Chartered Governance Institute, which was established 130 years ago, The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland represents members working and studying in the UK and Ireland and in many other countries and regions including the Caribbean, parts of Africa and the Middle East. Website: www.cgi.org.uk