An improbable All Blacks jersey sponsor has emerged as NZR look to plug financial hole
The NZR are currently in the midst of a potential 15 per cent sale of the revenue-generating side of their business, with American Tech Giant Silver Lake tabling NZ$465m for what amounts in effect to a roughly one-seventh share of the All Blacks.
The deal is currently been met with opposition by the NZRPA, the players’ union that represents professional rugby players in New Zealand, who count a number of top-level All Blacks on their board. Players fear a number of things with the deal, including a loss of connection with the grassroots of the game and the commercial influence such a deal would have on future decision making.
Now Midi Olympique are reporting that Mohed Altrad, the billionaire owner of Top 14 side Montpellier, is in a dialogue about becoming the All Blacks’ jersey sponsor as part of a new multi-million dollar deal.
Altrad, a building materials company, already sponsors France Rugby, a deal that is apparently worth €7m a season. A similar deal with the All Blacks would be worth significantly more.
Last year current jersey sponsor – AIG – announced it would be ceasing their sponsorship in 2021, ending a partnership which began in 2012. Their latest deal was purported to be worth NZ$120m to the NZR, or €71m . In 2020, it was reported in New Zealand that the NZR wanted to raise NZ$300m (€180m) with their new jersey deal.
Landing a $300m jersey deal would certainly help lower the financial necessity of bagging Silver Lake’s NZ$465 deal, and wouldn’t involve the sale of equity.
With television deals and ‘bums on seats’ no longer cutting it in terms of revenue, private equity deals appear to be new reality in rugby union. CVC’s deals with the Six Nations, Premiership Rugby Ltd and the PRO14 have set a new standard in the sport, which other stakeholders are surely now likely to follow.
Renowned All Blacks guru Wayne Smith raised eyebrows last week when he said: “We need the money” when asked about the private equity play. “We need to get the capital.” Whatever deals the NZR gets over the line, it’s interesting times ahead.
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