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'Very positive for Irish rugby' - Six Nations confirms €426 million deal with CVC

IRFU CEO Philip Browne has welcomed an injection of €56 million into the union over the next five years.

The Six Nations trophy.
The Six Nations trophy.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

THE SIX NATIONS has confirmed a €426 million [£365 million] deal with private equity firm CVC Fund VII for a 1/7th share in Six Nations Rugby.

IRFU CEO Philip Browne said the new partnership is “very positive news for Irish rugby.”

The deal will be worth €56 million to the IRFU over the next five years, with around €7 million due later this year. Browne has also indicated that the IRFU expect “that annual long-term revenues from the Six Nations will increase” with CVC’s commercial expertise on board.

The English RFU has confirmed that it will receive almost €111 million from the deal. The Welsh Rugby Union will benefit to the tune of €59 million, with the Scottish Rugby Union will receive €52 million.

The IRFU, along with the rugby unions of England, France, Italy, Scotland, and Wales will have a controlling 6/7th share in Six Nations Rugby, meaning the six unions “will retain sole responsibility for all sporting matters as well as majority control of commercial decisions,” according to an official statement today.

Six Nations Rugby said the objective of the partnership is “to invest to grow and develop the game; to further enhance the sporting spectacle of all the tournaments, the teams and the brands; and to build the data, technology, and broader commercial capabilities to support these ambitious plans.”

In short, the hope is to make Six Nations Rugby more profitable by bringing CVC on board.

CVC has already made significant investments into the Guinness Pro14 and Gallagher Premiership.

With the Six Nations having centralised the ownership of the Men’s, Women’s and U20s Six Nations Championships, as well as the Autumn International series, it now remains to be seen exactly how CVC plans to increase commercial revenues.

“CVC has a proven track record of partnering to support growth strategies in sport and is uniquely positioned to help promote collaboration across the sport of rugby for the benefit of fans, players, clubs and unions and all other rugby stakeholders,” said Six Nations Rugby CEO Ben Morel.

Meanwhile, the IRFU’s Philip Browne has welcomed a financial boost for the union amidst the challenges of the Covid-19.

“This deal demonstrates the strength and attraction of the Six Nations Championship, of which Ireland is an integral part, and yet, ironically it serves to highlight the extremely precarious financial situation in which the IRFU currently finds itself because of the Covid pandemic,” said Browne.

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“Put in context, today’s announcement comes against the backdrop of record losses for the IRFU in 2019/20 of some €36m and similar ongoing significant revenue losses expected this year.

“In real terms, the initial funds received from this deal will simply deliver the funding required to keep Irish rugby going for little more than a month.

“The real benefit of this agreement will come into effect in future years. As normality resumes, with fans returning to our stadia in significant numbers and clubs and schools recommencing play, we can look forward to investing funds from this CVC deal into the development of our game, from grassroots up to the elite levels for men and women.”

Originally published at 09.30; Updated at 12.07

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Murray Kinsella

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