The future of the Melbourne Rebels beyond the 2024 season will be known by early March after documents filed to the corporate regulator revealed the embattled Super Rugby franchise had only $17,300 in the bank.
The grim financial state of the Super Rugby franchise was laid bare in a creditors meeting held on Thursday, the minutes of which were filed to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission on Monday.
The administrators agreed to meet again by March 4, when they will hand down a report determining whether the Rebels should be wound up.
Auditors from PwC appointed to investigate the club’s financials revealed the Rebels owe $11.6 million to the Australian Taxation Office, $5.7 million to board members, and $2.8 million to suppliers – which include sponsors that paid their fees upfront.
Adding to the list of debts is the $1.1 million in unpaid stadium fees, $720,000 owed to the State Revenue Office and $250,000 in superannuation owed to employees.
The seven-person Rebels board is demanding Rugby Australia cough up $8 million they say is owed to the club. They allege the governing body owes $6 million for underfunding the club over a number of years, and an additional $2 million to cover the cost of Rebels’ player wages while they were on Wallabies duties.
PwC’s Martin Ford, the administrator appointed as chair, said he would need to investigate these claims before – or if – any action could be taken.
But even if Rugby Australia fork out that money, the Rebels will need a big helping hand to pay off their remaining debt. Administrators said the club has just $17,300 left in the bank, and assets consisting of office furniture, gym equipment and two cars. The value of those assets are not known.
Rugby Australia has been contacted for comment.