BBC Sport are reporting that the Six Nations are considering whether to follow a business model adopted earlier this season by the English Premiership.
It was December when Premiership Rugby moved into a new era after concluding a deal for CVC, a private equity firm, to invest more than £200m into the league in return for a 27% minority shareholding. Member clubs had previously rejected an offer for a majority 51% stake.
CVC are now believed to have tabled an offer to convince Six Nations officials to sell a 30% share in what is widely regarded as rugby’s greatest championship.
BBC report that a deal would be worth a windfall of more than £100million to each of the six unions, but the sale would mean part surrender of control of the tournament.
The revelation comes in the same week that the 2019 competition heads towards a Super Saturday finish where three of the six countries can still lift the title.
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More intriguingly, it also coincides with World Rugby’s summit meeting in Dublin on Thursday to thrash out the controversy that has developed about the proposed new World League.
It’s believed that if Six Nations decided to sell a chunk of its tournament to private equity, it would more than likely kill off the chances of the World League ever getting off the ground.
World Rugby has moved to clarify the organisation’s position on the merits and structure of a Nations Championship concept in advance of key meetings in Dublin next week. pic.twitter.com/NlefufHdxf
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) March 6, 2019
In a strategy called Project Light, the half-dozen Six Nations unions have spent the past 18 months exploring ways to better pool their commercial interests in an effort to raise more finance through the Six Nations whose credibility suffered a huge blow with a sponsorship wrangling.
Dithering by its administrators cost it a record value long-term deal two years ago and when that offer was pulled, they were left red-faced and forced to take a cut-price, one-year offer from NatWest. They have since struck a longer-term deal this season with Guinness, but that fee was still below the value of that was previously on the table two years ago.
CVC’s equity interest is apparently one of a handful of possible options and while an agreement is said not to be imminent, it leaves the Six Nations in a strong position when it comes to the World Rugby negotiating table this week.
A number of Six Nations unions have already made clear their concerns over the introduction of promotion and relegation, which would be part of the proposed Nations Championship.
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