Two of the member unions set for a timely financial windfall have hailed the sale of a 28 per cent stake in the PRO14 to CVC Capital Partners, the investment firm who purchased a 27 per cent slice of the English Premiership in 2018.
The Luxembourg-based group, who previously invested in Formula One before switching its attention to rugby, have spent £120million acquiring the stake in the five-nation league featuring 14 teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and South Africa.
The total value to the Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh unions is in the order of £30m each (net of costs), with an initial sum expected on Friday of approximate £5m to be paid to each of the four countries. South Africa, who have Southern Kings and Cheetahs playing in the league, won’t benefit from this deal.
The CVC buy-in follows a reputed £200m buy into the Premiership and talks about a possible 14 per cent buy into the Six Nations initially valued at £300m (talks are said to have been delayed regarding the Test level tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic).
With rugby concerned about its financial outlook following the indefinite suspension of the sport due to the virus outbreak, the CVC investment in PRO14 is very timely and has been warmly welcomed by Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips.
“Celtic Rugby has been working hard on this partnership for a considerable amount of time,” he said. “It is to the credit of everyone involved that the deal is now over the line and we look forward to a sea change in the ability of the PRO14 to realise its full potential.
“CVC’s belief in our sport is clear. Their commitment is hugely encouraging and this investment is great news for our teams and for Welsh rugby as a whole, although we are under no illusions that Covid has and will continue to have a significant impact on our organisation for some time.
“The Guinness PRO14 is a cross-border competition which brings unique challenges in the current climate, but this is a ringing endorsement for the recent evolution of the competition.”
Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson added: “We believed and were quite clear that the potential for external investment into our sport was possible and were in the vanguard of this through the delivery of the CVC partnership.
“The conclusion of the CVC investment into PRO14 is the culmination of a huge amount of work and is a welcome positive boost for the sport in these extremely challenging times.
“It demonstrates confidence in the future of rugby in Scotland and our PRO14 partner nations and shows the tournament is an attractive commercial proposition, which is open to innovative thinking and partnership working.
“This deal has a value to rugby in Scotland and the PRO14 beyond the financial transaction as it brings CVC’s knowledge and influence on board, which we look forward to seeing the benefits of in the years to come.
“Our current focus remains on supporting the rugby community at every level at this difficult time and keeping our staff, players and all those associated with the game safe.”
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