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Broncos slump to $22,000 half-year profit (that's one week's wages for David Fifita)


The Brisbane Broncos’ season of discontent has continued with a half-yearly profit of just $22,000 as sponsorship funds dry up, gate takings plunge and revenue is predicted to fall by about $8.8 million.

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The company has slashed $7.5 million from its expenditure for 2020 and players have been forced to take a 20 per cent pay cut, as have all NRL players. The company said it could not predict its full-year financial outcomes and blamed the pandemic for the dramatic slump in earnings.

However,  problems were emerging in 2019 when the Broncos reported healthy revenue of $51 million, but ticketing revenue and crowd numbers slid by 4 per cent because of “discretionary spending choices”. Membership also fell and corporate sales dropped 13 per cent.

The disastrous half-year result helps explain some of the club’s other problems including its inability to retain the services of rising star David Fifita, who last week rejected the Broncos to sign a record $3.5 million contract with Queensland rivals the Gold Coast Titans. Salary cap restrictions meant the Broncos’ offer for the budding superstar was $500,000 a year less than the Titans deal.

There has also been speculation about the future of coach Anthony Siebold following the club’s disastrous season, which has seen them win just three matches and only one of their nine outings since the NRL resumed from a coronavirus shutdown. Sacking Siebold would force the club to pay out the remainder of his rich five-year contract – a bitter pill to swallow given the club’s wafer-thin half-year profit.

The ASX-listed Broncos are majority-owned by Nationwide News, a division of News Corp, which has had its own problems this year leading to the shutdown of regional newspapers across Queensland.

The club’s problems are not yet over with expectations that sponsorship will “materially decrease” which it blamed on COVID-19 restrictions on the group’s ability to “deliver game day benefits”.

Its 2020 memberships have been reallocated to next season and Government assistance has been accessed.

Merchandise sales have fallen 52 per cent because there had been no game-day sales. The royalties the club receives from the NRL for merchandising are down 95 per cent. Merchandising was already in decline in 2019 with a fall of 22 per cent.

An example of the impact of restrictions is seen in crowd numbers. The local derby against the Titans attracted just 6200 fans, well short of the 10,000 allowable under the COVID restrictions for their home ground, Suncorp Stadium.

Expenditure is forecast to decrease to $17 million “reflecting the cost saving initiatives which have been identified and implemented to mitigate the financial impact of the COVID -19 restrictions, while continuing to protect the underlying strength of the business”.

“In addition to widespread operational cost reductions across all areas, a review has been undertaken of the fixed cost base of the business including remuneration levels and both current and future staffing requirements.

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