Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver is satisfied the Brumbies remain financially viable despite the Super Rugby franchise’s hefty legal costs and payout to departed CEO Michael Jones.
Pulver was in Canberra on Tuesday to meet with the Brumbies the day after they parted company with Jones.
Brumbies chairman Robert Kennedy said later the franchise would not need ARU help to meet the costs from the Supreme Court action brought by Jones and the settlement payment agreed with him after mediation.
“We’ve been through that in particular over the last few days in striking the deal, and I can confirm that we are financially viable, and that there are no ongoing concerns over our financial viability,” Kennedy said.
Pulver said that, while he was content with the Brumbies’ position, longterm funding of all five Australian Super Rugby franchises was a key concern and priority for the ARU.
“They (Brumbies) have just lost a CEO, so that leaves a little bit of hole, and we will support them wherever we can, but there is no urgent need for us to fill any gaps,” said Pulver.
“They are doing what they say they are doing (in turning the franchise’s finances around from consecutive annual losses) so it’s been a very encouraging day.
“The bigger issue that we at the Australian Rugby Union level are dealing with is one of financial sustainability at this level of competition.
“It’s not a Brumbies issue, it’s a Super Rugby issue, and in fact, it’s not even a Super Rugby issue, it’s a professional sport issue.
“At that level, rugby league has the same challenge, AFL has the same challenge to a certain extent. I’m sure soccer does as well.
“We’re investing a lot of time with all of the franchises trying to find a financially sustainable model.”
The Brumbies have asked Craig Leseberg, general manager of Community Rugby, to fill the CEO role in the interim, while the franchise embarks on a search for a replacement for Jones which Kennedy expects to take three to six months.
Kennedy reiterated the club’s commitment to the ongoing Australian Federal Police investigation into perceived anomalies in financial transactions related to the sale of the Brumbies’ former Griffith training base, and their subsequent relocation to the University of Canberra.
Back in September, the board made the decision on the advice of KPMG advisors to refer that report to the AFP.
“We continue to support that decision, and we would continue to co-operate with any on-going enquiries of the AFP,” he said.