Heavy losses were expected for Riders following cancelled 2020 season

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

The Saskatchewan Roughriders ripped the band-aid from the COVID-19 crisis on Wednesday with the release of their fiscal 2020-21 financial statements at the team’s Annual General Meeting.

The team lost of $7.5 million in 2020 compared to a modest $200,000 loss the year prior. Total revenues dropped from $39.6 million down to $10.3 million as a result of cancelling the 2020 season.

For those wondering how the Roughriders managed to generate over $10 million in revenue during a season in which no games were played and no tickets were sold, they can look to the $3.9 million in government grants and subsidies received by the team.

The club managed to cobble together $3.5 million dollars in sponsorship revenues and another $2.2 million in merchandise sales.

The organization was able to cut expenses by $21 million — mainly through salary reductions and layoffs to the football operations staff — which accounted for roughly 43 percentage of total expense reductions.

The lower merchandise sales saved almost $3 million dollars in expenses, while an additional $6 million in expenses was saved through a combination of game-day
operating costs, administration fees and advertising expenses.

The heavy loss was not unexpected as some early reports suggested the Riders could be in the red more than $10 million dollars from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As CEO Craig Reynolds pointed out Wednesday, the organization will have to remain “lean” through a multi-year approach to truly dig itself out of the financial ruin caused by the coronavirus.

The long-term financial implications are still unclear and will take much longer to determine the total impact.

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.