The Scottish Rugby Union is set for a cash boost of £35 million after a “deal in principle” to sell a 27 per cent stake of the Guinness Pro14 championship to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.
The tournament is owned by the three Celtic unions – Scotland, Ireland and Wales – and the bulk of the proposed deal, reportedly worth £120m, will go to them in one-off payments, although Italy and South Africa, who also field teams in the championship, will also benefit.
The deal continues a theme of CVC’s moves on to the rugby landscape. The Six Nations is also in “an exclusive period of negotiation” with CVC to sell a stake in the sport’s oldest championship and the firm has also brokered a £200m minority ownership deal with the English Premiership.
According to the BBC, CVC would take over the commercialisation of the Pro14 from Celtic Rugby DAC, which runs the league, taking on responsibility for areas such as sponsorship and broadcasting.
There could also be moves to expand the tournament even further afield, with the North American market a coveted land of opportunity.
The BBC reported that Celtic Rugby’s “Designated Activity Company [DAC]” has confirmed CVC’s interest.
The statement said: “Celtic Rugby DAC and its shareholders can confirm a request has been filed to the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for Merger and Acquisition clearance by CVC Capital Partners.
“The request has been made in relation to a potential transaction involving Celtic Rugby DAC and CVC Capital Partners.
“Both parties are involved in advanced discussions and until those talks have been finalised there will be no further comment.”
Speaking at the Welsh Rugby Union’s annual general meeting in Cardiff yesterday, WRU chairman Gareth Davies told the BBC: “It is an interesting departure and development.
“It is commonly known that the Pro14 has been in discussion with CVC and it looks like that could be moving forward.
“There are still Is to be dotted and Ts to be crossed but that is moving on. That will be an influx of money into Ireland, Scotland and Wales and that is well received.”