Last year's Lions tour contributed to solid financial results by New Zealand's provincial rugby unions.

After a record setting performance in the previous financial year, the Mitre 10 Cup rugby unions have built on that solid performance to deliver another record setting collective surplus for the 2017 financial year, according to the Deloitte Sports Review: State of the Unions report released today.

The report examines the annual financial accounts of the 14 semi-professional and amateur rugby unions competing in the Mitre 10 Cup. It shows a combined collective surplus of $3.8 million. The result builds on the previous high water mark of $3.5 million achieved in 2016.

However, unlike 2016 when every team achieved a surplus, only 11 of the 14 unions individually posted surpluses in 2017. The three not to were Counties-Manukau, Manawatu and Canterbury.

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The top four revenue earners were Auckland, Canterbury, Wellington and Bay of Plenty. They had respective total revenue figures of $15.4m, $8.4m, $7.1m and $5.8m.

Deloitte partner Grant Jarrold says a key contributor to this standout financial performance was the positive effect of the Lions tour.

"The test match fees received by the Auckland Rugby Union for hosting two of the All Black tests against the Lions at Eden Park bolstered the collective surplus for the Mitre 10 Cup unions to surpass the mark set the year before," he said.

The combined revenue earned by the 14 Mitre 10 Cup playing unions was $79.2 million for 2017, a 2.8 per cent increase from 2016 combined revenue of $77.0 million.

Of the three components making up total revenue – grants and sponsorships, match related income, and other revenue – grants and sponsorships accounted for 68.6 per cent of total revenue, other revenue brought in 20.4 per cent of total revenue and match related income provided the remaining 10.9 per cent.

Consistent with 2016, match related income had the largest percentage revenue growth with a 19.0 per cent ($1.4 million) year-on-year increase. Notably Auckland's increase in revenue carried this result as they posted a $3.0m increase in total revenue on their own. Remarkably, this means the other unions' total revenue actually decreased by a collective $0.9m for the year. For 2017, only half of the Mitre 10 unions achieved year-on-year increase in their total revenues, compared to all unions the year before.

In 2017, the group of five Mitre 10 Cup unions that are based in the same city as Super Rugby franchises accounted for more than half of the total revenue for the first time since 2013, accounting for a combined 50.5 per cent of revenue.

Total operating expenditure for 2017 increased to $74.6 million, up 3.3 per cent ($2.4 million) from 2016. This 3.3 per cent increase in expenditure was proportionately greater than the corresponding 2.8 per cent increase in revenue.

Of the three components making up total expenditure, team and match related costs account for 46.6 per cent of total expenses, growing the game costs account for 27.1 per cent and administration expenses round out the final 26.3 per cent.

"Disappointingly, while total revenue increased by 2.8 per cent, growing the game expenses only increased by 1.5 percent year on year," said Jarrold.