Parramatta put their figure at closer to $7 million, largely due to the $600,000 they are losing because of the crowd restrictions at Bankwest Stadium for their 10 home games.
Penrith’s sponsorship has already dipped from $7 million to about $4 million, while government restrictions on crowds have meant just 3500 members and 500 corporates can attend Panthers Stadium. Capacity is about 21,000.
Attendance would have averaged more than 16,000, given the team’s blazing form and club-record 10-game winning run, says chief executive Brian Fletcher.
Fletcher said next Saturday’s clash against Wests Tigers and the round 18 Friday night blockbuster against the Eels would likely have been sellouts.
The huge dip in attendance is costing Penrith more than $100,000 a game, Fletcher said.
“And the big thing for us is also having the leagues club across the road, which would generate another $100,000 in revenue on average come game day,” he said. “We rely on a lot of revenue being generated after games and that revenue increases again when we’re winning. Imagine it this year?”
‘People will always remember COVID and they will always remember the premiers in 2020.’
Panthers chief Brian Fletcher
Fletcher said the one bonus about thriving in these unique times was it had made it easier to negotiate future sponsorships.
“If you were running last it would be difficult in that area,” he said. “We want to win every year, but I’d really love to see us win it this year. People will always remember COVID and they will always remember the premiers in 2020.”
Eels boss Jim Sarantinos said his club had banked on an average crowd of 20,000 at Bankwest Stadium before a ball had been kicked, especially given the excitement and expectation about this season’s campaign.
“If you were to combine sponsorship, membership, hospitality and gate receipts, we were hoping to generate about $16 million in revenue,” he said. “Our members and sponsors have been incredible, but COVID has cost us about $7 million in revenue.
“Each home game is costing us about $500,000 to $600,000 in lost revenue. And we had 11 home games this year.
“We can only have 7500 members and corporates. A crowd of 20,000 people would normally be made up of 50 per cent members and corporates and the other 50 per cent from people paying at the gate.
“We’re also limited to only about 40 per cent of what we could normally make from corporate hospitality.
“It’s been a challenging year, it’s been challenging for everyone – certainly some clubs more than ours – but that doesn’t have anything to do with our team’s desire to win.
“Every team in the past has had a big bump off the back of winning a competition, especially if you haven’t won one in a while.
“Souths in 2014 and Cronulla in 2016 had really strong years financially the year after they were premiers.
“We’re playing Souths next Thursday and we will have just 7500 people. There would have been closer to 20,000 [under normal circumstances].”
Penrith will be chasing 11 straight wins next week when they host the Tigers.
The Eels drew level on competition points with the Storm after they defeated them 14-0 on Thursday night and are pushing hard for second spot.
The minor premiership race will be blown right open for the final two rounds should they defeat the Panthers at Penrith.
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Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.