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RFL announce financial loss for 2022

The Rugby Football League - the sport's governing body - made a loss of nearly £1m in 2022, its financial results have shown.

Nearly 75% of that deficit is down to an unexpected leap in the cost to insure players, in case of injury.

Lower-than-expected Challenge Cup final ticket sales, a loss-making mid-season international double-header involving England's men and women and the added cost of supporting the delayed Rugby League World Cup also played a part in the game's financial downturn.

The full accounts will not be published until they have been presented to the Rugby League Council at an annual general meeting on 26 July.

But the headline figures show that player insurance - which the RFL pays on behalf of all professional clubs - leapt from £705,644 in 2021 to more than £1.4m last year, the result of what the RFL says was "a significant premium increase which was not able to be budgeted for".

The strategic report, which has been delivered to all clubs, also describes ticket sales for last year's Challenge Cup final at Tottenham between Wigan and Huddersfield, which drew a crowd of 51,628, as "below expectations".

Turnover was up by 70% from £24.8m in 2021 to £42.1m in 2022 - largely as a result of the World Cup - with sponsorship increasing from £1.7m to £5.8m, and government funding from £8.4m to £11m, mainly due to grants received by Rugby League World Cup 2021 Limited for delivery of the tournament in 2022.

The RLWC2021 was a separate company, but as it is part of the broader RFL Group, its results have been included in the RFL's draft group 2022 financial statements.

The 2022 losses come after a year in which the game made a profit of more than £1m. And the RFL reports it has reserves of £7.9m.

The report concludes: "The board and executive team had budgeted to make a profit in 2022 (£394,000) in order to continue the financial turnaround from the previous three years and to build reserves for future to bolster the group's ability to absorb potential budget shocks in the coming years.

"Despite strict cost control and management of spend by the executive, the group has been faced with another challenging year."

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