A Premiership versus PRO14 Grand Final could be on the cards in seasons to come if private equity firm CVC acquires a Premiership-like stake-holding in the five-country tournament featuring clubs from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Italy and South Africa.
CVC Capital Partners splashed out approximately £220million last December to secure a 27 per cent shareholding in the Gallagher Premiership and there are now chasing down a similar size share in the PRO14 valued at approximately £120m.
It’s believed hands will be shaken on this sell-off of this shareholding to CVC in the next four to six weeks as negotiations with rival investors have ended and the focus is now on ironing out the small print of the various terms and conditions.
This development, reported in The Times newspaper on Friday, will generate the exciting prospect of the winners of the English Premiership taking on the champions of the PRO14 in an end-of-season finale aimed at aligning the two rival tournaments.
According to the report, other options include joining up the two leagues for full-on end-of-season play-offs featuring eight clubs, four from each league.
Exclusive: CVC on verge of 2nd major rugby acquisition. Has agreed structure and terms for £120m deal for 27-30 per cent share of Pro14. Pro14/Premiership have already discussed and end-of-season grand final between their two winnershttps://t.co/EpLDHRSbsT
— owenslotTheTimes (@owenslot) April 18, 2019
Currently, four teams from the Premiership annually contest the semi-finals in England following a round-robin season of 22 matches for each of the participating 12 clubs.
Meanwhile, the PRO14 was split into two seven-team conferences for the 2017/18 season to accommodate the inclusion of two franchises from South Africa. Teams now play 21 regular season games before six of them, the top three in each conference, progress to the title-deciding play-offs.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 17, 2019
The Times Good Friday report vindicated the January 17 exclusive by RugbyPass that a private equity firm had initiated talks with the PRO14 regarding the possibility of a potential buy-in.
CVC’s ambition for these rugby tournaments is to increase their overall commercial revenue and it’s believed an off-field collaboration between the two leagues could result in allowing the equity firm to sell broadcasting rights for the two competitions together.
There could also be an administrative alliance, with the Premiership and PRO14’s currently separate finance and legal teams combining to work together.
Aside from aligning the interests of the PRO14 with the Premiership, there has also apparently been discussions about the potential to set-up a world club cup competition that would be held every four years featuring Europe’s leading clubs along with those playing in Super Rugby.
WATCH: The RugbyPass fly-on-the-wall documentary on 2018’s PRO14 final in Dublin
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.