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Crusaders turn around earthquake loss
12:33 AEST Wed Dec 19 2012

The Crusaders have turned last year's financial loss into an operating surplus, the Super Rugby franchise says.

The Crusaders were hit hard by the devastating February 2011 earthquake, and returned a loss of $NZ696,300 ($A562,235) last year.

Crusaders chairman Murray Ellis says the franchise can report a "significant turnaround", making an operating surplus of $NZ87,147 ($A70,370) for the 2012 year.

But he says the loss of AMI Stadium will continue to hit the Crusaders' bottom line hard for some time, due to the reduced capacity for ticket sales and other costs associated with the new stadium at Addington.

Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach says the ability to play at home in 2012 was the single biggest factor contributing to the turnaround in the Crusaders' financial performance.

"If we subtract the extraordinarily high revenue from the match played in Twickenham in 2011, we grew match revenue by approximately 25 per cent this year," he said.

The Crusaders also achieved a 136 per cent increase in sponsorship this year, he added.

Riach said the pleasing financial result meant the Crusaders could fulfil obligations, including an additional payment to the Christchurch Stadium Trust as part of the agreement with the government in getting the new stadium built.

"We will be making a $87,147 payment to the trust, which is over and above the agreed rental amount for AMI Stadium (Addington)."

Further revenue of over $NZ500,000 ($A403,730) from the Crusaders' business interruption insurance claim will be used to repay all but $NZ200,000 ($A161,500) of the franchise's loan from the New Zealand Rugby Union.

Ellis says the new licence to run the Crusaders announced on Tuesday further adds to the financial stability and commercial opportunities for the franchise heading into 2013.

The licence was awarded to a South Island provincial union-based group, the Crusaders Limited Partnership (CLP), owned by all six Crusaders unions: Canterbury, Tasman, South Canterbury, Mid Canterbury, Buller and West Coast.

The licence applies from January 1 next year and will expire on August 31 2020.