15 Nov 2017

Samoa PM calls for shared rugby takings

6:17 am on 15 November 2017

Splitting international match takings between host and visiting teams could solve the broke Samoa Rugby Union's financial woes, the country's Prime Minister and Rugby Union chair says.

Samoa's PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi called for shared rugby takings. Photo: RNZ / Sela Jane Aholelei

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who is also chairman of the union, said the move could fix its financial crisis overnight. He announced last week that the union was broke and made a public plea for donations during his weekly radio broadcast.

He said more than $200,000 had been raised, but more needed to be done to save the struggling union.

Under world rugby rules, host nations take 100 percent of the gate takings on game day.

It's a rule Mr Mailelegaoi wants to see changed.

"Splitting the match takings - even if it was 60-40 - it would be marvelous, it would solve the union's financial problems overnight and I'm not just speaking for Samoa, it would be the same for Tonga and Fiji - all three unions are struggling all the time," he said.

"If we are able to get a 40 percent share of the northern tour, that would give us enough to run the Samoan Rugby Union for three years."

Mr Malielegaoi said the cost to run the Samoan rugby union was about $11 million a year.

The union gets just under $3m from World Rugby and $6m from sponsors and the government, but it still left them with a deficit of about $1m.

World Rugby announced last week it would increase Samoa's funding by 19 percent, which means it will receive nearly $3m this year.

That money would cover player insurance costs and flights for Samoa's northern tour, which is already under way.

The BBC has reported England offered to give Samoa a goodwill gesture - thought to be about $140,000.

Mr Malielegaoi said he was grateful for the support, but a long-term solution to the union's crisis was still needed.

However, World Rugby vice chairman Agustin Pichot told the BBC sharing match fees of the northern tour was not a long-term solution.

He said there was clearly a problem with smaller unions making money - and it's something World Rugby was working on.

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