6 Nations reach 5-year, $508M investment lifeline with CVC

LONDON (AP) — Six Nations Rugby confirmed a 365 million pound ($508 million) injection of much-needed cash from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners on Thursday.

Negotiations on the five-year deal for a 14.3% stake in the Six Nations’ commercial rights began in September 2019 and was agreed to by January by the six rugby unions of England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales.

The partnership includes Six Nations Rugby-controlled tournaments involving the men, women, and under-20s, and the autumn internationals. The unions will retain control of sporting issues and majority control of commercial decisions.

The English Rugby Football Union, in the strongest market, will receive the biggest share of the investment, with 95 million pounds over the five years. France is next, followed by Ireland, Scotland and Wales, which said it will receive up to 51 million pounds. Italy is getting the smallest payout.

Bill Sweeney, chief executive of the English RFU, the world’s biggest and richest union, said the deal will allow them to invest in the game and help offset predicted losses of 30 million to 50 million pounds in this financial year.

With all matches in the autumn and the ongoing Six Nations without spectators, the RFU forecast a drop in revenue of 140 million pounds from ticketing, hospitality and broadcasting. In November, the U.K. government loaned English rugby 135 million pounds to the end of this month, with 44 million pounds allocated to the RFU, which has laid off more than 160 people.

“Our CVC capital investment priorities will be asset development in the community game and England Rugby activity,” Sweeney said.

“This could, for example, include club, ground and stadium development, data and digital investment, and opportunities to further grow the women’s game. As a result of significant revenue losses, we will also apportion some CVC capital in the short term to pay down debt and rebuild reserves.”

The Welsh Rugby Union hailed the deal as “a pivotal moment in the history of the international game in Wales.”

“We look forward to welcoming the laser commercial focus that CVC will add to the historic organization that is Six Nations Rugby Ltd,” the WRU said. “CVC have a track record of successfully investing in sport and their proven commercial and technology expertise will benefit the game enormously.”

Luxembourg-based CVC already invests in the Pro14 league involving clubs from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa, and Wales, and the English Premiership.

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