Rugby is undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous sports, drawing in hundreds of thousands of viewers per game and millions in advertising. Behind the rough plays is the lesser-known side of any sport – the financial side. Maintaining a team costs money, and the capacity of each team to maintain its players, coaching staff, support system, and the whole organization lies in its commercial value.
A number of factors come into play in determining the value of rugby teams. Sponsorships of the team, advertisements during the broadcast, fan consumption during games, and digital media content are some of the components in determining the value of the team. All of these play a part in making the team valuable to its stockholders, determining its commercial and financial value.
This French team is currently recognized as one of the world’s richest rugby team. Its annual budget for the 2018-2019 season is at €30 million, allowing it to sign top players of the sports like Tana Umaga and Sonny Bill Williams on top of maintaining its current stars like Steffon Armitage, Drew Mitchell, and Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe.
Under the leadership of its wealthy owner Mourad Boudjellal, the team has become a magnet for commercial success. They have already won the French Top 14 four times and the Champions Cup three times. With the attention it draws from advertisers and investors, Toulon will continue to rise as one of the wealthiest teams in rugby.
9 Leicester Tigers
Among Europe’s most elite teams, the Leicester Tigers have the highest average audience attendance during its games. They can fill a stadium to capacity at over 25,000 spectators per game, giving it a good source of income. The high attendance is due to the fact that the club has an impressive record. They have 10 Premiership titles under their belt plus have made a finals appearances at the Championship Cup five times, making them a magnet for fans and sponsors. The know-how and of course wealth of former player Peter William Gregory Tom adds to the financial stability of the club, making it one of the world’s richest rugby teams with revenue of €20.4 million for 2018.
8 Stade Francais
Another French team is among the wealthiest teams in the rugby world. Stade was one of the first teams that took advantage of its brand to come up with team merchandise products to bring them closer to their fans. The team saw a rebirth in 2015 when former club president Max Guazzini stepped down after the team faced a financial crisis in 2011. Stade Francais has since then reached the finals, won three consecutive games and got to the Top 14. With an estimated annual budget of €34 million for the 2018-2019 season, the team is on its way to a more stable and healthier financial status. They have recently launched their marketing campaign for 2019-2020 season ticket holders and this is one way to keep their status in the richest rugby clubs in the world.
While Wasps are one of the most successful teams with 2 Championship Cups and 6 Premiership wins, they were in third place at the end of last season. The initiative made by club owners in 2015 revolutionized the way sports teams invested their funds. The Wasps became the first sports team to be on the London Stock Exchange for a retail bond listing. While experiencing some financial trouble last year to mostly to a mistake in reported income, they had to rely on cash inflow from their owner and lost some valuable players for this season. They also have income from sponsorships and venues, and the Wasps are on their way to a steady future with an income of €32.8 million for the previous year.
6 Clermont Auvergne
Another team that proves that audience attendance is a vital key to financial success is Clermont Auvergne. They have an annual operating budget of about €32.5 million for the 2018-2019 season, making the French club one of the richest teams in rugby. This is due to the fact that they have one of the highest attendance among European clubs.
The high number of live audience has steadily increased because of the unique branding and high-level games seen from the team. They also have one of the most passionate crowds in rugby and numbers show it. Ticket sales, food sales, and merchandise sales increase when there are many live audiences. The French champions also draw in income from advertisements during their televised games.
There is no doubt that if you win championships, the money will follow. Such is the case for Toulouse. The team has entered the finals of the Heineken Cup six times and won four of those times. Stade Toulouse has also dominated the Top 14 for a whopping twenty times, setting a record for the most wins in the French Championship. They have a talented roster that provides a majority of players for the national team. The stellar record they have has paved the way for them to be in a very good financial place, with an estimated operating budget of €34 million for the 2018-2019 season.
The English rugby powerhouse is a team that has a big number of wins in the past year. They entered the Championship Cup finals finishing second in 2014, then went on to be champions in 2016, 2017, and again in 2019. They also won the English Premiership a total of four times from the period 2011-2019. Things are not steady financially for the group as half the club shares are up for sale. But the purchase of their own place, Allianz Park, has generated millions of euros for the team. Even without the support of former investors, the winning record of the team is enough to draw in other financiers and sponsors. They posted a turnover of €17.8 million for the previous year.
3 Racing 92
Racing 92 is a relatively new club compared to others that have a long history of rugby. Formed only in 2001, they had a local Parisien Council that infused money into the team. The investment was made in the hopes that a return on the investment will come to fruition, and it was realized with a European finals appearance and a French Championship in 2016. They have added top player Dan Carter to the roster and are expected to attract other big names in rugby in the future. With a budget of €23.7 million for 2019, more success can be expected of the team.
Lyon is a team rich in history and heritage. They have been hopping between the two rugby divisions in France but have been maintaining a good record in both. When they were promoted to the Top 14 in 2016, their annual operating budget rose to around €25 million. Some of the income came from a lucrative arrangement with a network where the team gets a share of the money raised from broadcasting the games. If Lyon continues their record of being in the top tier of teams, they look at a stable future among the richest rugby clubs. This is seen in the financial success for the first nine months of the 2018-2019 fiscal year where they posted a budget of €29.8 million.
1 Bordeaux Bègles
The last team on our list of richest rugby clubs is a testament to how money can create sports teams nowadays. A new player on the field was formed in 2006, the Bordeaux Bègles were infused with millions in the budget at the onset. President Laurent Marti pumped money into the team upon its formation with a budget ranging from €3.6 to €4.2 million for the 2006-2009 period. In 2015, GaveKal, an investment company from Hong Kong, bought 10 percent of the company stakes, further stabilizing the financial status of the team. They now have an estimated €23 million in the annual budget, putting them in the top 14 in spending.