Last Updated: 01/07/20 6:17pm
Manu Tuilagi is among six players who will leave Leicester Tigers after failing to agree reduced wage packages amid financial challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Tigers, who were 11th in the Premiership when the season was suspended in March due to Covid-19, revealed on Wednesday that the pandemic has cost them approximately £5million in revenue.
Despite Tuilagi having signed a new contract with Leicester in 2019 – after French side Racing 92 had registered their interest in him – the 29-year-old has failed to reach an agreement to stay with the West Midlands club.
Neither club nor player have officially confirmed his exit, but Leicester did say that a “small number of players” would be leaving “to seek new opportunities elsewhere”.
“The players were asked to accept reduced wages and, following feedback, we created a mechanism through which a proportion of forgone earnings could be reclaimed when the club returns to profitability,” Leicester said in a statement.
“At the same time, salaries of lower-paid players beginning their professional careers were protected. In common with other club employees, these changes resulted from detailed explanations of the club’s financial position and the necessity of the measures being taken.
“Our focus throughout this crisis has been to put the club first and to ensure the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of Tigers.
“The vast majority of players fully support our recovery plans and will be working with Geordan Murphy and Steve Borthwick on the way forward, beginning with the phased return to training and proposed resumption of the 2019-20 season.”
England internationals George Ford and Ellis Genge are expected to provide a boost by signing deals to stay with the club.
Leicester have estimated the impact of rugby being halted and believe up to 31 members of staff could be made redundant.
Leicester have made use of the government furlough scheme, but on Wednesday concluded a redundancy process which could see numerous staff leave.
“The club’s commercial activities have felt the pandemic’s impact more than most Premiership Rugby clubs, given the size of its stadium and fan base,” the club statement continued.
“To date, the club has missed out on approximately £5million of revenues since it was last able to host matchdays or events at Welford Road.
“The board recognises and is grateful for the significant sacrifices made across the club’s community to ensure a sustainable long-term financial footing for Tigers.
“Fans have kept season ticket money in the club and sponsors have continued to be supportive.”