Celtic rugby organisers are preparing to announce brewery firm Guinness as the new sponsors of the PRO 12, the Evening News understands.
A deal is at an advanced stage which will see the former backers of the English Premiership return at domestic level in succession to RaboDirect, who announced their decision to pull out a year early some time ago. A formal announcement is expected along with fixtures, including Edinburgh’s, for 2014-15 within a few days and it is being claimed that the domain name www.guinnessPro12.com has now been registered out of Celtic League headquarters in Dublin.
It is the latest move in an exciting period of upheaval for the Celtic competition who are about to kick-off with a new four-year broadcast deal with Sky Sports.
That arrangement will see 33 games screened live and such exposure will almost certainly have strengthened the hand of the Celtic administrators when they sat down to negotiate.
Other parties are thought to have been interested with Turkish Airlines mentioned in some quarters before Guinness’ heritage in the sport – they are sponsoring Ireland’s international programme and have assisted the British and Irish Lions – prevailed.
It is the third rebranding in eight years for the Celtic competition since Magners came along as first title sponsor.