PRO 14 cash boost as league secures deal with CVC Capital Partners
Reported £120m will lead to significant investment and likely to increase private equity firm's influence in discussions to remodel the global rugby calendar
Last Updated: 22/05/20 8:23pm
The PRO 14 has received a major cash boost by selling a 28 per cent stake in the league to CVC Capital Partners.
The deal, reported to be worth around £120m, will lead to significant investment and is likely to increase the private equity firm's influence in discussions to remodel the global rugby calendar.
The company already has a minority stake in England's Premiership Rugby, reported to be worth more than £200m.
- Six Nations, SANZAAR working on global rugby calendar
- Prem Rugby training restart 'at least' two weeks away
The PRO 14, which was owned equally by the Irish, Scottish and Welsh Rugby Unions, includes teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and South Africa.
Under the agreement, the Italian Rugby Federation will receive part of the investment and join Celtic Rugby DAC, the company owned by the Irish, Scottish and Welsh unions that runs the league.
"The partnership will allow PRO 14 Rugby and the Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh rugby unions to continue to invest in the sport," the PRO 14 and CVC Capital said in a statement.
Welsh Rugby Union CEO Martyn Phillips said CVC's investment would bring about a "sea change" in the PRO 14's ability to reach its full potential.
"This investment is great news although we are under no illusions that COVID-19 will continue to have a significant impact for some time," Phillips added.
CVC Capital was reported last year to be on the brink of acquiring a stake in the Six Nations.
World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper has expressed reservations about CVC's interest in the Six Nations, saying a high funding commercial owner could end up making calls that are not in the best interests of the sport.
What does CVC hope to achieve?
Analysis from Sky Sports News reporter James Cole
CVC's investment in rugby union continues and for the PRO 14 clubs this deal provides a serious financial boost at a critical time, with each of the Celtic unions receiving £35m.
It already owns 27 per cent of Premiership Rugby and is in discussions over buying a stake in the Six Nations. So what does the Luxembourg-based group hope to achieve?
The private equity firm has targeted rugby union because it feels it can increase its commercial revenue and therefore make a profit from its investment. CVC has a track record of doing this successfully - most notably with Formula One.
A potential TV package involving the Premiership, PRO 14 and Six Nations may be in its sights - and it may even hope to merge the Premiership and the PRO 14.
Either way, in the short term, the windfall will ease the mounting pressure on clubs, who may have to survive without fans at their grounds for some time yet.