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ACT Brumbies concede rugby must change for financial future as ARU offers alliance

ARU boss Bill Pulver has met with the Brumbies to discuss a potential private equity partnership. Photo: Elesa KurtzThe ACT Brumbies say they will continue working with the ARU to find a way to make rugby financially viable, conceding the game must change for it to be successful in the future.
Nanjing Night Net

But interim Brumbies boss Phil Thomson says the Super Rugby franchise will not rush into a decision on any potential structural changes or a mooted alliance with Australian rugby powerbrokers.

The ARU is speaking with all Australian clubs in a bid to ease the financial strain on rugby, with chief executive Bill Pulver set to meet with the NSW Waratahs in the coming days.

Pulver was in Canberra last week to meet with Thomson and Brumbies chairman Robert Kennedy to discuss ways to secure the ACT club’s future.

The Brumbies will report another financial loss at the end of the year and Pulver wants to break down traditional barriers to “streamline” some back-room operations.

“We all know there is a problem with the financial model of Australian rugby, which includes the ARU and all Super Rugby teams,” Thomson said.

“We all need to work together to find the best model for everyone moving forward.

“Something’s got to change, it has to. Rugby has financial issues right from the top down so we need to work together to come up with the solutions of the best financial model for long-term viability.”

The ARU insists it is not interested in a takeover of Brumbies operations, similar to that of the Western Force, and is rather looking at a strategic alliance.

The ARU took control of the Force earlier this year but it’s understood the Brumbies are in a stronger financial position and the ACT Rugby Union board is not willing to sell intellectual property.

The Brumbies signed a new deal with major sponsor Aquis on Friday to secure their short-term future despite a turbulent year off the field.

Officials are working on a strategic plan for the medium to long-term outlook to improve the club’s off-field stability.

“There has been no decisions made, the board is conducting a strategic review of all of the options available to us to find additional revenue streams,” Thomson said.

“We need to look at our operating model. Everything looks good for 2017 but we need to look at our financial viability for the longer term.

“There is definitely no rushing into things, we have to assess everything that’s in front of us and look at what the best strategic options are for the Brumbies so they remain financial and in Canberra for the long term.”

The Brumbies are in the process of finalising a shortlist to find a permanent chief executive.

The club’s search for a leader stalled at the end of 2013 when the ARU was considering a centralised Australian Super Rugby model that would change the traditional role of club chief executives.

The financial pain in Australian rugby and growing angst to restructure the Super Rugby format to four Australian teams instead of five has prompted fears about which team would be cut in coming years.

The Brumbies’ financial position has raised questions about their future while the Force and the Rebels are also considered to be on the radar for being axed or relocated.

The Brumbies want to stay in Canberra but speculation has raised the prospect of shifting home games to Perth or Melbourne or the ARU relocating the franchise to another city.

Thomson is confident the Brumbies are on stable ground in Canberra and the club is working with stakeholders to ensure long-term viability.

“We’ve had a couple of discussions with the ARU … we’re looking to the future and re-signing Aquis is a major step for the short-term and it’s great to have them on board,” Thomson said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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