Improving fiscal outlook for World Sailing

Published on October 9th, 2021

Questionable leadership and circumstance found the international governing body for the sport of sailing in financial hardship, and it has been the focus of the new board and chief executive to climb out of the hole.

Highly criticized for relocating its headquarters from Southampton to London, World Sailing is said to be staying in the city but moving to a more affordable space. As for the current fiscal status, this report comes from insidethegames:

World Sailing has posted a smaller-than-expected deficit for 2020, while serving notice that it expects its Tokyo 2020-related Olympic dividend to be no smaller than what it received for Rio 2016.

The UK-based body, which elected China’s Quanhai Li as President late last year after an eventful and hard-fought campaign conducted in the shadow of the pandemic, said the “successful delivery” of Tokyo 2020 had “alleviated the critical financial risks associated with the cancellation of the Games”.

Having made what are described as “reasonable inquiries”, World Sailing’s directors are now of the opinion that “the projected Olympic distribution from Tokyo 2020 will not be lower than the distribution from Rio 2016”.

Accounts for 2016 and 2017 indicate World Sailing received Olympic receipts totaling just under £11.85 million ($16.1 million/€13.9 million) in those years.

This new disclosure that World Sailing has “prudently projected” its distribution from Tokyo at “the same level” as Rio 2016 may be of interest to those involved with other Summer Olympic sports, who might be concerned that the COVID-19-related postponement of this year’s Games and extra expenses accrued might eat into their respective Tokyo 2020 dividends.

World Sailing’s comments may well help to ease such concerns.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) contributed $540 million (£397 million/€466.5 million) all told to International Federations (IFs) post-Rio 2016, marginally up on the $520 million (£382 million/€450 million) shared out in the wake of the London 2012 Olympics.

The new accounts put World Sailing’s 2020 deficit at £864,000 ($1.2 million/€1 million) – well below the 2019 figure of £2.5 million ($3.4 million/€3 million), as well as the £1.2 million ($1.6 million/€1.4 million) loss that chief executive David Graham warned last November that he was expecting.

This was still enough to reduce reserves carried forward to less than £1 million ($1.35 million/€1.17 million).

While operating income dropped from £3.7 million ($5 million/€4.35 million) in 2019 to £2.2 million ($3 million/€2.6 million) – including a dip in sponsorship income to less than £1 million ($1.35 million/€1.17 million) – operating costs fell more sharply, from £6.3 million ($8.6 million/€7.4 million) to below £3.3 million ($4.5 million/€3.9 million).

The new accounts also included confirmation that World Sailing has arranged to borrow $3.1 million (£2.3 million/€2.7 million) from the IOC.

This loan is said to be interest-free and repayable over five years from December 2021 in equal installments.

Directors’ emoluments, relating solely to the chief executive, were down from more than £250,000 ($340,000/€294,000) in 2019 to £118,397 ($161,000/€139,300).

A note in accounts filed separately by a subsidiary, World Sailing (UK) Limited, said the reduction was “due to a six-month vacancy during 2020”.

Graham, whose appointment was announced in May 2020, replaced ex-British Olympic Association man Andy Hunt after he left the post in 2019.

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