DOMINIC McKay, Scottish Rugby’s chief operating officer, has warned that if Covid-19 social distancing measures mean that rugby cannot resume by the end of November, the financial impact will be considerably more than the £12m lost revenue quoted by chief executive Mark Dodson in respect to the Autumn Tests not going ahead. The organisation’s total turnover last year was £61m.

Last Tuesday, Bill Sweeney, the chief executive of the English RFU, appeared in front of a hearing held by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to give a fairly bleak outline of the consequences for his organisation of the crisis impacting the Autumn Test schedule.

“If they go ahead but behind closed doors that is a negative impact of £85m and if they are cancelled entirely that will be £107m on top of the £15m we have already lost,” he said. “So, it is a very significant loss of revenue and we are doing what we can to mitigate it.”

This was just over a month after the RFU had forecast £45-50m in lost revenue over the next 18 months as a consequence of the crisis, which gives a fairly sobering indication of just how quickly the projected financial damage is escalating.

Scottish Rugby has not, so far, been as forthcoming and detailed about their financial modelling, but McKay did not duck the issue when giving a briefing to Sunday journalists earlier this week.

“Mark [Dodson] was speaking about the £12m a few weeks ago in respect of our three Autumn Tests, but I think we can safely assume that the number would be north of that on the basis that if we don’t have Autumn Tests then you also wouldn’t have any professional rugby taking place in Scotland,” he said.

“Importantly, you also wouldn’t have grassroots rugby taking place in Scotland, so it would have a profound and significant impact on finances.

“We’ve seen the numbers that have been shared by others and the numbers that were shared at the DCMS committee. It just shows that every governing body – regardless of size or financial muscle – is facing an enormous challenge. The only way that we’re going to protect our respective sports is by making some tough decisions, but also by working really closely with our governments. Our governments will be key to getting sport restarted.

“Once sport restarts, only then can the sport start generating revenue again.”

Pressed on why Scottish Rugby won’t put a ballpark figure on the financial hit it faces, McKay said: “Things are constantly changing just now. As we get more clarity on the furlough scheme, that will enable us to make further updates. With the way things are at the moment, as soon as you reference a number, it can then be out of date very quickly. But, from an operations point of view, we do recognise that it’s a significant challenge. We’ve had some amazing sponsors who are standing by us.”

Like all other sports, Scottish Rugby’s hands are tied until government advice allows them to move forward, but they are actively looking at ways to minimise the damage, including the creation of a self-contained hub at Murrayfield where various elite sports can return to action in a safe environment – which could lead to football’s Scottish Cup Final being played at the national stadium.

“We’re just scoping that out,” said McKay. “This week’s conversation with the government was just the first step on that journey. The feedback we got was that they would like us to develop that concept a bit further so we’ll now take it away. We’re fortunate that we have a great, large, open-air site at Murrayfield which lends itself to being configured in any way.

“It’s a very flexible space, so anything from managing the entry – who comes in and out – to thermal imaging opportunities on arrival, the one-way system around the site, the ability for players to park at the side of the pitch and go straight onto that pitch from their car, but we’re going to detail it a bit further.”