THE highest paid executive in the Scottish Rugby Union – usually the chief executive, which would mean Mark Dodson in this instance – was paid £933k (before pension contributions) for the year up to the 31st May 2019, more than double the £455k earned the previous year.

Meanwhile, the other three directors of the organisation – chief operating officer Dominic McKay, general counsel Robert Howat and chief financial officer Andrew Healey – shared £1.178m between them, up from £535k the previous year.

So, the total spent on the executive directors jumped from £1.13m to £2.246m, meaning that over 3.5 percent of the SRU’s £61m turnover went towards paying just four individuals – an astonishing figure for a governing body charged with investing in and developing the sport at all levels in this country.

The figures came to light yesterday when the SRU finally lodged their annual accounts at Companies House (seven-and-a-half months after the accounting period had ended and five months after the annual report was published for the AGM). A note in the accounts explained that these figures include the crystallisation and release of bonuses accrued during the past three years as part of the organisation’s ‘Long Term Incentive Plan’.

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The massive hike in executive pay will stun the wider rugby public in Scotland after a far from vintage year for Dodson and the Scottish Rugby Union.

Dodson’s contact with the SRU was extended in March 2018, to run until after the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

The timing of these figures being released is surprising as they are bound to antagonise already sceptical clubs ahead of a meeting at Murrayfield tonight in which Sir Bill Gammell and Norman Murray will to try to persuade clubs to support their proposals for a governance restructuring which will hand even more autonomy to SRU executives.

For reference, the Welsh Rugby Union (£90.5m turnover, £49.9m surplus) paid their highest earning director £351k in total (including bonus and other benefits) last year. The highest paid director of the Scottish Football Association for year up to 31st December 2018 was £376,169 (turnover £37.5m).

Newcastle United (£178m turnover) paid their highest earning director £300k in their most recent accounts and Southampton FC (turnover of £150m) paid £675k.

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In repsonse, Scottish Rugby released a statement that read: "Scottish Rugby can confirm its accounts noted in companies house reflect payments made to its most senior Director and all Directors for the last financial year, which reflect the individuals’ contribution to its Long Term Incentive Plan to deliver on the organisation’s strategic initiatives and targets.

"The Directors’ fees and salaries for 2019 also contain bonuses covering the first three years of a 5-year plan, 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 as well as annual bonus awards for 2017/18 and 2018/19.

"Financial turnover grew over that period from £47.4m in 2015/16 to £61.1m in 2018/19.

"The Company’s Remuneration Committee sets the parameters of annual medium and long term objectives and targets and assesses progress against them, before deciding whether any award should be made under the annual bonus scheme or Long Term Incentive Plan."