The Pro14 clubs ’rugby competition changed its name, adding more South African teams and agreeing new transfer deals, in the first sign of how private company CVC Capital Partners aims to revive the sport.
The buying group paid £ 120m for one 28 percent participation in the tournament last year, one of a series of rugby deals that seeks to reshape the global game by changing how the sport is sold to fans, sponsors and broadcasters.
The competition, an annual tournament that includes teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and South Africa, changes its name to the “United Rugby Championship”, people say they know the decision.
These people have said they have also secured new television deals for the start of the September 2021/2022 season, including with the BBC in the UK, RTE in Ireland and SuperSport in South Africa. Organizers will also launch a new global global subscription service for fans.
Although the goal is for most matches to be screened on live television to reach the widest possible audience, broadcasting businesses will help increase annual revenues for the competition to £ 55 million, from £ 25 million last year.
However, the tournament can still struggle to secure new spectators and revenues. Rugby is dominated by interest in national competitions such as the Six Nations in Europe, the Rugby Championship in the Southern Hemisphere and the Rugby World Cup.
According to people close to the decision, the new United Rugby Championship will play fewer weekend matches when international matches are held and players from stellar clubs represent their national teams.
In addition to his participation in Pro14 CVC he has also invested in the English Rugby Premiership and in the Six Nations, The first rugby tournament of national teams in Europe.
His plans for the United Rugby Championship point to how CVC intends to act as a powerbroker between the disparate groups that lead the sport to value the value of its investments.
The Luxembourg-based group, former owner of Formula 1 and Moto GP, has tended to take minority shares in sports competitions, seeking commercial control in a way that allows it to pool TV rights for various competitions and sell them to broadcasters.
In addition to rugby, the recovery group has also acquired a stake in the global volleyball governing body and has held recent investment negotiations with companies including the ATP and WTP, men’s and women’s tennis tours, Italian Serie A football league, and American basketball franchise Spurs of San Antonio.
The United Rugby Championship will go from 14 to 16 teams. Two South African parties, the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs, have left the competition, but will be replaced by four of the country’s biggest teams: the Lions, the Stormers, the Sharks and the Bulls.
Over time, South Africa Rugby, the country’s union, will also become a shareholder in the competition, linking it closer to some of Europe’s leading unions.
CVC has also discussed investment in South African Rugby and is engaged in discussions to create a Club World Cup tournament for the world’s top rugby teams. CVC’s recent influence in rugby has helped advance discussions and a new world competition could launch as early as 2024, according to people close to the discussions.