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South African expansion will see a serious sum of money injected into Pro12

The South Africans have pledged to contribute a whopping sum to the league across six years.

IT’S SCARCELY BEEN kept a secret, but earlier today Celtic Rugby released a statement confirming they were in talks to add two South African franchises to the Pro12.

“Celtic Rugby can confirm that advanced & positive discussions are taking place with the South African Rugby Union regarding the introduction of 2 teams into an expanded Guinness PRO12 Championship,” it read.

“Given the proximity of the 2017/18 season start, a final decision on this potential expansion will be confirmed as soon as practical.”

This followed an interview with Harold Verster on South African radio last week, in which the Cheetahs CEO all but confirmed that his side and the Southern Kings would be moving north this term.

The finer details of Celtic Rugby’s expansion are yet to be ironed out, but Tom English of BBC Scotland reports that the move has been predominantly determined by a huge increase in revenue as opposed to the potential improvement of the league, though the latter naturally remains extremely important.

Per English, the South Africans have committed to a six-season deal in the north, and will deliver roughly £6m per season to the new Pro14, mostly through their domestic television rights. This amounts to a whopping 50% increase on what the Pro12 earns from TV rights in its current iteration.

The crux of the Kings’ and Cheetahs’ introduction to the world of Celtic Rugby, he maintains, is to address – at least partially – the current financial imbalance between the Pro12 and its English and French counterparts.

The move is expected to be confirmed next week, with a fixture list due for release in the following days as we edge towards kick-off in September.

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