The disclosure of the SRU’s full accounts at Companies House on Tuesday – revealing that payments to the organisation’s four executive directors had more than doubled in the year up to the end of May 2019 – could hardly have come at a worse time for the organisation’s top brass.

In terms of the news cycle, it might have ended up being a bit of one hit story as a result of Gregor Townsend naming his Scotland training squad the following day, which inevitably grabbed the next set of newspaper headlines – but you have to wonder what the players made of it at a time when the they are negotiating their own payment packages for the Six Nations. It was telling that Townsend felt the need to warn reporters at his press conference that he would not be discussing executive salaries. Those players coming out of contract and Glasgow will also have taken notice.

Meanwhile, Sir Bill Gammell and Norman Murray – the two businessmen trying to introduce a new corporate governance structure for the SRU which hands the executives more autpnomy to run the game as they please – must have been spitting feathers. They were left hosting a ‘town hall’ meeting of clubs on Wednesday night, at which they hoped to make the case for trusting chief executive Mark Dodson et al to do what is right by the grassroots game, against a shocking backdrop of blatant corporate greed.

The SRU had prepared and audited their accounts in time for their AGM last August, but there was no legal requirement to detail the director emoluments at that point (although there is a strong argument that it would have been good governance to do so). They then had up to the end of February to lodge the accounts at Companies House, at which point the director fees had to be revealed, so you can’t help but wonder why on earth they were submitted on this of all weeks?

Whether the timing was cock-up or conspiracy, the damage could be huge to the current SRU regime. There has been concern for a few years now about some of the behaviours and attitudes of the people currently running the game in Scotland, and this could be the final straw for member clubs.

There is no way of putting lipstick onto this pig. The accounts revealed that for the year leading up to the end of May 2019, the highest paid executive at the SRU – almost certainly chief executive – earned a staggering £933,000 (up from £455k the previous year). The other three executive directors – chief operating Dominic McKay, general counsel Robert Howat and chief financial officer Andy Healey – collected £1.178m between them (up from £535k).

To put that in perspective, seven times the £308,000 profit the SRU made last year – the lowest profit since 2005 – was directed towards four individuals at the top of the organisation. To put it another way, this quartet was paid the equivalent of 73 percent of the total spent on ‘club support and development’.

If a member club was to reach the gold standard of the club sustainability fund [awarded for having the appropriate infrastructure to develop players and the game] then they are awarded £11,0000 by the SRU, and if they win the Premiership then they get £5,000 – which, in total, is still almost £2,000 short of Dodson’s £17,942 average weekly earnings last year.

And how about this for comparison? Philip Browne, chief executive of the IRFU, is paid in the region of £175,000 off a turnover of £74m; Martyn Phillips, chief executive of the WRU, is paid £351,000 off a turnover of £90.5m; and Bill Sweeney, chief executive of the RFU, is thought to be paid around £500,000 off a turnover of £213m (although that last one is complicated because there was a change of chief executives at Twickenham mid-year).

The SRU Remuneration Committee which awarded the salaries and bonuses is culpable, but the whole episode raises serious concerns about the pervading culture inside the Murrayfield big tent. There are some abuses which are just too egregious to let slip by.