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The Top 14 clubs' budgets make for eye-watering reading again this season

The average provisional budget for the 2015/16 season is €21.5 million.

THE TOP 14 and Pro D2 seasons were officially launched in Paris earlier this week, ahead of the upcoming first weekend of the 2015/16 campaign.

Toulon lift the Champions Cup Trophy Toulon are fourth in the LNR's provisional budget list. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The LNR, who run the professional leagues in France, have released the figures reported by each club as their provisional operating budgets and they make for eye-watering reading once again.

Toulouse remain at the top of the pile at €30.9 million, although their overall budget has been reduced by almost €4 million since last season.

Beneath the former giants of European rugby, Clermont have upped their outlay to €29.2m to remain second spot on the list, with reigning Top 14 champions Stade Français newcomers to the top three after seeing their budget rise by more than €2m to €27.7m.

The average budget in the Top 14 has been boosted by more than €400k to €21.5m, according to the LNR’s list of provisional figures.

Newly-promoted Agen are bottom of the list with a relatively meagre €11.6m, while Paul O’Connell’s Toulon are fourth with a budget of €26.9m.

Mourad Boudjellal’s club have been known to use outside business to cover the cost of a portion of certain players’ wages in the form of commercial and sponsorship deals, however, meaning this figure may not be a wholly accurate reflection of the truth.

ToulouseÕs  Toby Flood Toby Flood's Toulouse remain top of the pile. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Indeed, the numbers for other clubs may not accurately reflect how little they are spending on players’ wages compared to their rivals, as these budgets can include money used to pay off newly-built training facilities or refurbished stadiums.

Nonetheless, figures such as €17.3m for a side like Pau, just promoted from the Pro D2 last season and with James Coughlan, Paddy Butler and Sean Dougall in their squad, are enough to induce envy from Ireland and elsewhere.

Provisional Top 14 budgets for 2015/16:

Toulouse – €30.9m

Clermont – €29.2m

Stade Français – €27.7m

Toulon – €26.9m

Racing 92 – €24.3m

Montpellier – €23.5m

Grenoble – €21.7m

Bordeaux – €20.4m

Castres – €20.3m

Pau – €17.3m

La Rochelle – €16.4m

Oyonnax – €16m

Brive – €15.3m

Agen – €11.6m

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Murray Kinsella

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