Former Parramatta Two Blues and Gordon Highlanders club rugby star David Cox has urged the major sporting codes to put fans first as they navigate their way through the crippling mess left by COVID19.
Cox, who is a partner at accounting firm Moore Stephens, insisted the only way for sporting clubs to survive the current crisis is for them to maintain their connections to their biggest clients, the fans.
“Community engagement is the key to coming out of this,” urged Cox. “Forget the money for once and put the fans first, businesses aren’t attracted to a sport that has no fans.”
Cox also urged sporting clubs to take the chance to restructure their finances for the time being and be more realistic about their fiscal situation, in anticipation of the potential opportunities that lie once the social isolation measures end.
“A chance would be an understatement, they don’t have a choice,” said Cox. “Sport at all levels is expensive to operate safely and effectively and without the support of business they could be in big trouble in the short term (just like the rest of society).
“Everyone needs to adapt and potentially restructure operations so they are more nimble and responsive to change.
“Things will recover and sport will be a cornerstone of the recovery, sport is an essential part of Aussie life.”
Many football minded fans are worried about the survival of their clubs in the current climate. Cox was confident the major footballing bodies like the NRL, Rugby Australia, AFL and FFA will ensure their biggest assets, the clubs, will not go under. But he did warn that even the bigger clubs in all the major codes will struggle with liquidity in the short term.
“Don’t think the major sports will let clubs falter, but having said that, many will struggle as most are heavily leveraged with debt and hefty wages bills and overheads.
“The Parramatta Eels just sent an email asking members to pledge their season ticket money to the club if there were no games, rather than refunding the fees because fans can’t attend games.
“This is a club backed by one of the largest leagues clubs in NSW, a huge asset base and following, so yes clubs are struggling.”
Cox, who is based in Ashfield and who’s firm is regarded as one of the best in the country in terms of client relationships, admits the current pandemic has kept him and his colleagues busy.
“We are getting hammered all day every day with calls from business owners and employees in distress.
“Unfortunately, there is still a significant amount of uncertainty regarding stimulus packages such as job keeper.
“We are in the middle trying to explain the rules whilst trying to calm down anxious clients whose livelihood has been affected.”