Failure to agree to a new deal with either BT Sport or Sky before the coronavirus crisis has left Premiership Rugby facing a potential huge drop in the value of its broadcasting rights. With private equity firm CVC Capital Partners buying 27 per cent of Premiership Rugby last year for £200million, there was a belief that more lucrative commercial and TV deals would follow.
However, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has proven untimely, with The Times reporting that the English top-flight might now struggle to get anything close to the £40m a year it currently receives from BT, whose six-year deal is set to elapse at the end of the 2020/21 season.
It is said that broadcasters had expected the sale of the latest TV rights to be wrapped up before June. However, with the 2019/20 season indefinitely suspended since March, uncertainty surrounds the sport amid speculation that some Gallagher Premiership clubs are in danger of going bust due to the stoppage.
The delay in the arrangement of a new TV deal for the English league is one of many gloomy financial stories circulating about the game. Last week it was reported that the CVC buy-in to the Guinness Six Nations (and a separate deal with the Guinness PRO14) had also been delayed by the global virus pandemic.
The Financial Times suggested papers were to be signed last month regarding the deal but the Six Nations said: “We have not agreed to either take a break nor to push through a completed agreement. The conversations are simply ongoing and obviously take into account the new environment created by the current pandemic.”
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