Massive cash boost for Scottish rugby with new £365m CVC Six Nations deal

Six Nations Rugby has struck a deal with CVC which will see the private equity firm invest up to £365 million.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend and captain Stuart Hogg with the Six Nations trophy. CVC will invest £365m in the tournament. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend and captain Stuart Hogg with the Six Nations trophy. CVC will invest £365m in the tournament. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The money will be paid to the six unions over a period of five years. Scotland’s share is worth up to £44.5m and the SRU will received an initial chunk of £7.4m (before costs).

In exchange, CVC will take a seventh share in Six Nations Rugby and work alongside the rugby unions of Scotland, England, France, Ireland, Italy and Wales, which will together retain six-sevenths.

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Speaking last month, SRU chief executive Mark Dodson said the investment would be “transformational” for the future of Scottish rugby. He envisaged using it to upgrade Murrayfield, keep the pro teams competitive, invest in community rugby and “future-proof” the sport in Scotland.

In a statement, the SRU said: “The arrival of CVC is a timely and strong expression of confidence in rugby and one which will directly benefit the wider game in Scotland in years to come.

“The initial amount for Scotland will be around £7.4m (before costs) at completion, out of a total allocation for Scotland of up to £44.5m (before costs) if Six Nations meets various future financial performance conditions.

“The proceeds generated from this partnership are spread over a period of five years. Scotland will also benefit from an increased commercial focus on the competition as a result of the partnership with CVC.

“Scottish Rugby’s Board and Council will take their time to determine how best to utilise this future income, having both backed the proposal to bring CVC on board.

“We look forward to working with CVC and our fellow Unions to continue to ensure the Six Nations remains the iconic and valued tournament it is today.”

The deal, which has long been in the pipeline, is described as a “long-term strategic partnership”.

CVC has already invested significant sums in the Guinness Pro14, helping the SRU and others battle through the worst of a pandemic-affected year where fans have been absent for the 2020-21 season.

The announcement also revealed that the Six Nations had taken “centralised ownership” of the men’s, women’s and under-20 Six Nations Championships, alongside the Autumn International series.

The Six Nations TV deal expires at the end of this campaign and is currently out to tender amid speculation that the Championship will go behind a pay wall. BBC and ITV currently share the broadcast rights in the UK, with all matches screened live on terrestrial television.

Confirming the CVC deal, the official statement said: “Six Nations Rugby, the official organising body of the Six Nations Championships and Autumn Internationals, is pleased to announce that it has agreed a long-term strategic partnership with CVC Fund VII, subject to customary regulatory approvals.

“The partnership with Six Nations Rugby comes at an exciting time following the newly centralised ownership and operational activities for both the Men’s, Women’s & Under-20s Six Nations Championships, alongside the Autumn International series.

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“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.

"These steps will ensure continued development of these prestigious tournaments for the benefit of existing fans, and to attract a new more diverse and global fan base, which will support the wider rugby community, including the players, clubs, and unions, to achieve their full potential over the long-term.

“CVC will bring to the partnership its significant experience in sports, as well as its global network, working alongside the unions and the Six Nations Rugby management team, to deliver on ambitious growth plans for the Six Nations Championships and Autumn International series. Under the terms of the agreement the six unions will retain sole responsibility for all sporting matters as well as majority control of commercial decisions.

"The CVC Fund VII investment into Six Nations Rugby will be paid to the six unions over a period of five years, reflecting the long-term nature of the partnership. This capital investment, combined with the expected growth of the tournaments, will help the unions to support the development of rugby at all levels in their respective territories over the years ahead.”

Ben Morel, CEO of Six Nations Rugby, said: “This is a hugely positive development and I want to express my thanks to all parties involved. In particular, our six unions and federations, for the strong sense of unity and collaboration they have shown throughout this process to create a unified Six Nations Rugby and agree the partnership with CVC.”

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