SCOTTISH RUGBY : EDINBURGH RUGBY LIMITED
Everybody in Scottish Rugby will be only too well aware of the recent comment and speculation in the media surrounding the ongoing dispute between Edinburgh Rugby and Scottish Rugby. This has undoubtedly been a very difficult time for all concerned.
You will be aware that, with the threat of Court action from Edinburgh Rugby, the Union has been constrained in what it can communicate regarding the detail of the dispute. This situation still exists and for this I seek your understanding. I do, however, believe that as your President it is only right that I provide you, our member clubs, with as full an update as possible in the circumstances. In doing so I can hopefully allay some of your concerns and dispel some of the unfounded allegations that you may have heard in relation to this matter.
At the outset I would seek to re-assure you that over the last few difficult months the Union has explored every avenue to avoid legal action. In entering our agreement with Edinburgh Rugby we have offered help and practical assistance wherever possible. However, as we have continually reminded the new Edinburgh owners, the agreements between the Union and Edinburgh Rugby form a binding contract and we expect Edinburgh to honour its obligations. This means, for example, that we expect Edinburgh to release players for Scotland duty. If they choose not to do so we will defend the Union’s position and as necessary protect our rights in the best interests of the game. Ultimately, this means that if Edinburgh decides to press its claims through the Courts we will, albeit with a heavy heart, defend our position vigorously.
I am aware that there has been some speculation in the press regarding the costs of defending such an action. I would stress that some of the speculation on this topic has been well wide of the mark. I can assure you that the costs will in no way impact on our ability to fund the many developments currently underway in the club game. For the avoidance of doubt we will :-
? continue to roll out our significant programme of new club development officers;
? follow through on our pledge to fund in full the club accident insurance scheme (saving each club ?£400 per team next season); and
? continue to seek to boost the number of schools playing, the number of adults playing, the number of referees in our game, etc.
All this is not in question and I look forward to sharing with you many of these exciting developments over the coming months.
You may also have seen earlier today some mischievous claims that Scottish Rugby is ‘insolvent’ or would have to ‘sell Murrayfield’ to meet its obligations to Edinburgh Rugby. Nonsense! Irrespective of how (and why) such reports have appeared in the media I would ask you to challenge such allegations wherever you come across them. Our Chief Executive, Gordon McKie, informed us at our recent AGM that the SRU’s 2007 Financial Statements will show a trading profit, albeit before any provision required for the closure of the Border Reivers. Our borrowings are down almost ?£2M to ?£19M. We have considerable headroom in our borrowing facilities, we have the full support of our bankers and we have very considerable asset backing in the form of our land at Murrayfield. Therefore I would suggest that you treat any reports to the contrary with the contempt they deserve.
I would also ask you to be aware that your elected representatives on the Scottish Rugby Council have been kept fully up to date with regards to the dispute, and indeed the Council’s representatives on the Board have seen the relevant documentation and information related to the dispute and have reported to the Council that they are satisfied that the correct strategy in the best interests of Scottish - and Edinburgh - Rugby is being pursued. As recently as last Thursday both your Council and the Board unanimously reaffirmed their support of the stance being taken. As your President I would fully endorse this position.
Finally, and importantly, I turn to the question of the players. Many of you will know my rugby background. You will be aware of my background as a player, coach and former Chairman of Edinburgh Gunners. You will appreciate that I have known many of the Edinburgh players throughout their careers, from the time they first pulled on an Edinburgh jersey as an age grade player through to their representing their country in the Scotland team. Those of you who know me will appreciate that the welfare of the players has throughout been at the forefront of my concerns – and I can assure you that this has always been key for your Board and Council. I am determined that whatever happens with Edinburgh, the impact of the current dispute on the players will be minimised and that I will continue to work with your Council, Board and the Union’s management team to ensure that the long term interests of our game are observed in dealing with the dispute.
As you will appreciate that this is a fast moving situation and I will endeavour to keep you fully informed of developments.
Yours in rugby
George W Jack
President, Scottish Rugby Union