Scottish rugby boost as CVC pumps £100m-plus into Pro14

SRU chief executive Mark Dodson.SRU chief executive Mark Dodson.
SRU chief executive Mark Dodson. | Freelance
But no immediate plans to allocate the new funds

The Scottish Rugby Union has welcomed what has been described as a multi-million pound “significant strategic partnership investment” of more than £100 million from the CVC private equity firm in the Guinness Pro14, which involves Scotland’s pro-teams Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh.

The deal will see the firm acquire a 28 per cent share of Pro14 Rugby from Celtic Rugby, with the unions involved - Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Italy and South Africa - retaining a 72 per cent majority share in the competition.

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The agreement will also see the Italian federation become integrated with the Celtic nations of Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

In a statement, the SRU said: “Scottish Rugby’s Board will consider this new investment as part of its on-going budget management and has no immediate plans for the allocation of the funds. It intends to safeguard the investment until a clearer picture emerges of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”

It is a significant investment by a company that has been looking to make inroads into the rugby market, notably in the Six Nations. With the current Covid-19 pandemic placing extra question marks over the short to mid-term future of the global cross-border competition the Pro14 has developed into, it is a major sign of faith that it has a future.

SRU chief executive Mark Dodson said: “We believed, and were quite clear, that the potential for external investment into our sport was possible and were in the vanguard of this through the delivery of the CVC partnership.

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“The conclusion of the CVC investment into PRO14 is the culmination of a huge amount of work and is a welcome positive boost for the sport in these extremely challenging times.

“It demonstrates a confidence in the future of rugby in Scotland and our Pro14 partner nations and shows the tournament is an attractive commercial proposition, which is open to innovative thinking and partnership working.

“This deal has a value to rugby in Scotland and the Pro14 beyond the financial transaction as it brings CVC’s knowledge and influence on board, which we look forward to seeing the benefits of in the years to come.

“Our current focus remains on supporting the rugby community at every level at this difficult time and keeping our staff, players and all those associated with the game safe.”

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CVC, a company which was previously involved in Formula 1, has been in talks with the Pro14 for some months and in 2018 acquired a 27 per cent holding in Premiership Rugby, the top tier of English club rugby union for £200m.

A proposed £300m deal by CVC Capital Partners to invest in the Six Nations, which has been controversial due to the threat that the world’s most famous and oldest international rugby competition may be lost to terrestrial television, is currently hold due to the current uncertainty.

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