The RFU at civil war with Twickenham old guard over financial affairs

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Ex-chief Francis Baron has been asked to look into where the money at the RFU has gone


The RFU are at civil war with some Twickenham grandees who are concerned about the way the body are managing their financial affairs.

Former RFU chief executive Francis Baron, credited with building the new Twickenham, has been asked by a group of past RFU presidents to probe where the money has gone.

The RFU, despite making a £27million profit from the 2015 World Cup, are currently working through a cash-cutting redundancy programme that will see over 60 personnel lose their jobs. In addition, there is a £30m overspend from the original budget on the East Stand revamp.

Ex-chief Francis Baron has been asked to look into where the money at the RFU has gone

Ex-chief Francis Baron has been asked to look into where the money at the RFU has gone

There is also annoyance that former RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie can retire from Twickenham and then promptly end up as chairman of the Premiership armed with all the RFU secrets.

Baron’s findings — which are at draft stage — have already succeeded in causing huge divisions between the RFU’s old guard and the current regime who believe the origin of the upset is something as petty as privileged members losing their automatic seats in the Royal Box.

The bad feeling is demonstrated in a message from past president John Owen posted on the Facebook page of Simon Winman, an RFU stalwart whose job is in jeopardy.

Owen wrote: ‘It is a travesty that 41 of the 64 redundancies are from the community game. You and others can be assured that serious questions are going to asked about the financial mismanagement of the union affairs over the past six years. Substantial losses appear to have been made year on year and answers are required.’

Ex-RFU chief Ian Ritchie retired from Twickenham and  ended up as Premiership chairman

Ex-RFU chief Ian Ritchie retired from Twickenham and  ended up as Premiership chairman

Ex-RFU chief Ian Ritchie retired from Twickenham and ended up as Premiership chairman

The RFU strongly deny any suggestion of financial mismanagement, with a spokeswoman saying: ‘We present our detailed business plans to the RFU council every year and our audited financial statements are published annually.

‘We have invited a group of past presidents who have not been on the council for many years in for an update in the next few weeks and also receive regular accurate information.

‘Francis Baron left the union eight years ago and has had no access to the detailed records of the union since his departure, so it is hard to understand what he is basing his views on.

‘We have undergone an extensive financial governance overhaul to ensure that we operate at a standard which is appropriate for an organisation the size of the RFU.’

Ed Smith has hardly put a foot wrong since he became the most left-field choice of all as national selector. 

But whether it was a wise move to call a meeting with cricket agent Neil Fairbrother earlier in the season to inform him that his three main clients Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes were at the hub of Smith’s selection plans going forward is open to question.

Sawyer takes the mic

TalkSport are replacing Mark Saggers with Natalie Sawyer as presenter of their main Monday to Friday nightly show Kick Off.

Saggers, who will continue as host of the Sunday Premier League coverage, has been one of the mainstays on talkSport for over a decade and Sawyer has little radio experience.

She left Sky Sports earlier this year having failed to agree a new contract. She wanted more outside broadcast opportunities than Sky were prepared to give her.

Natalie Sawyer (C) will replace Mark Saggers as presenter of TalkSport's nightly show Kick Off

Natalie Sawyer (C) will replace Mark Saggers as presenter of TalkSport's nightly show Kick Off

Natalie Sawyer (C) will replace Mark Saggers as presenter of TalkSport’s nightly show Kick Off

The shambolically-run Football League’s move to little-known digital network Quest for their highlights programme on Saturday night started in predictable fashion. 

Technical problems resulted in a distorted picture on the Freeview platform and a mediocre peak viewing figure of just over 388,000 at the start. 

A FL spokesman said: ‘The initial analysis has surpassed early expectations.’ A Quest spokesman said: ‘We have apologised to those fans affected.’

Colin Graves, beleaguered ECB chairman, was expected to talk about the history of Test cricket during his lunchtime speech on the opening day of England’s 1,000th Test at Edgbaston. Instead he went on for ages about his tenure as chairman.

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