The motion to approve external funding in Scotland’s professional teams was passed unanimously at last night’s SRU Special General Meeting.
A quorum was easily achieved and a show of hands displayed clear ascent from the 167 member clubs and associate body delegates present, with no objections.
SRU chief executive Mark Dodson now has the green light to pursue investors who will partner the union in funding Edinburgh, Glasgow and the National Academy system, which he and the Board believe is necessary to protect the domestic game from spiralling pro-game inflation.
Dodson indicated the search now begins and said: “We have spoken to lot of people across Europe and North America for sponsorships in the past and they’ll be one of our first ports of call.”
Dodson explained the plan was for a Newco to be created to run the pro teams, of which the union would, ideally, have a controlling stake – although he said they would be open to a larger investor share.
Retaining a minimum percentage of Scottish qualified players in the pro team squads and release for international duty would be enshrined in any partnership agreement.
SRU president Rob Flockhart, who proposed the motion, thanked members for turning up in requisite numbers and voting in favour.
He said: “In my covering letter that went out to the clubs I wrote that the history of Scottish rugby has been characterised by a willingness to make bold decisions. We continue to be ambitious in our drive to develop the game.
“Your support this evening has been a critical step to enable us to develop the domestic game in allowing us to seek external investment to keep our pro teams competitive.
“We will now send your executives out into the world to find cash.”
Dodson said that the SRU’s recent experience of attracting sponsorship deals, including the large one with BT which included the naming rights of Murrayfield, would stand them in good stead for this new project and added: “ We’re used to going out and selling things of this nature.
“There is a process you have to go through. You prepare your sales document, look at your market and make sure you go to the people who can fulfil the requirements.”