Thursday, December 2News That Matters

British and Irish Lions stars take pay cut ahead of South Africa tour

British and Irish Lions stars have accepted a 25 per cent pay cut ahead of this summer’s trip to South Africa

Sportsmail has learned Warren Gatland’s squad will be paid basic wages of £48,750 for the eight-match tour, compared to £65,000 for the New Zealand series four years ago.

The cut is due to the financial impact of the pandemic, with 37 Lions receiving their lowest pay since the trip to South Africa in 2009. 

Warren Gatland and his Lions squad have taken pay cuts ahead of the South Africa tour

Warren Gatland and his Lions squad have taken pay cuts ahead of the South Africa tour

Warren Gatland and his Lions squad have taken pay cuts ahead of the South Africa tour

Gatland is also understood to have taken a significant cut to his £500,000 salary, along with the rest of the Lions’ permanent management and staff, with the cut kicking in last August. 

The Lions’ compensation payments to clubs have also been reduced by 25 per cent to partially offset the loss of commercial and ticketing revenue caused by the absence of travelling fans. 

Each club will receive £48,750 for every player they contribute to the squad, with Saracens in line to collect almost £250,000 as they have provided five Lions – Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Mako Vunipola and Elliot Daly. 

The players will also receive a bonus of around £10,000 if they win a series for the first time since the tour to Australia eight years ago. 

The 37-man squad will be paid basic wages of £48,750 for the eight-match tour, compared to £65,000 for the New Zealand series (pictured) four years ago

The 37-man squad will be paid basic wages of £48,750 for the eight-match tour, compared to £65,000 for the New Zealand series (pictured) four years ago

The 37-man squad will be paid basic wages of £48,750 for the eight-match tour, compared to £65,000 for the New Zealand series (pictured) four years ago

That is a 50 per cent reduction on the prize pot that was on offer for the drawn series in New Zealand four years ago. 

The Lions’ tour cheque was £50,000 in Australia before increasing to £65,000 in New Zealand, with the significant reduction this year coming as a direct result of the pandemic.

South Africa Rugby have yet to confirm how many fans will be allowed to attend the three Test matches against the Springboks, but it is thought 50 per cent of capacity is the maximum that will be permitted. 

Lions’ commercial revenue will also be hit by the absence of travelling fans and, as Sportsmail revealed last week, failure to agree a documentary deal in the style of the hugely successful Living with Lions has been another financial blow.