British and Irish Lions make €9.6m profit from tour of South Africa despite Covid impact – The Irish Times

The Dublin-based company that runs the British and Irish Lions rugby tours made a profit of £8.2m (€9.6m) last year despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, which resulted in the holding of the three test matches in South Africa. without spectators in the stadiums.

The latest British and Irish Lions accounts show he recorded a turnover of £20.1m (€23.4m) in the year to the end of September 2021. This per compared to an income of only 886,868 euros the previous year. The company’s revenue would typically be weighted to the year of a tour – with the Lions touring Australia, New Zealand or South Africa every four years – and would normally include revenue from tour packages for Lions fans and associated ticket revenue.

In 2017, when the Lions toured New Zealand, the company made a profit of £7.8m on sales of £22.1m.

The entity is owned by the Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh rugby unions and earned its revenue last year mainly from sponsorship, broadcast, merchandising and licensing rights. It had a record 25 retail partners in 2021, including Vodafone, Sky Sports, DHL and TikTok. His sources of income have “not been significantly reduced” due to the impact of the Covid restrictions imposed on partnership rights.

The Lions squad featured eight Irish players, with South Africa winning the Test series 2-1.

It is understood that £4m of last year’s profit will be used to fund the Lions’ day-to-day running costs until they tour Australia in 2025. The remaining £4m was used to cover losses suffered in 2019 and 2020 (a loss of €842,158 was recorded) and this year.

Commenting on the financial results, Ben Calveley, British and Irish Lions chief executive, said unions were “really pleased” with the performance of the business given the “challenges we faced in 2021 and the real prospect of the tour in South Africa”. not taking place”.

“It was a unique year and tour, but one we can reflect on with great pride. What we have achieved at the end demonstrates the power of our brand and the esteem in which it is held. It is also a testament to the dedication and the unwavering support of everyone associated with Lions, including players, coaches, support teams, support staff and our unions and partners,” he said.

“The British and Irish Lions brand and organization has never been stronger, and we are optimistic about what the future holds. Planning is well underway for the 2025 tour of Australia.

The British and Irish Lions have doubled their squad to 12 over the past year, with wage costs more than doubling to just under €1.8million. The average salary of staff was just over €149,000.

Looking to the future, the British and Irish Lions are set to launch a fan membership program later this year which will provide digital content and live events in years outside of the tour. He is also studying the possibility of a women’s tour.

A three-part documentary series about the South African tour is due to air on ITV on June 19.

The British and Irish Lions board was chaired by former England rugby international Jason Leonard. Its directors also included ex-IRFU CEO Philip Browne, who resigned at the end of last year, former Wales international Ieuan Evans and ex-Scotland star Gavin Hastings.

Charles P. Patton