New WRU chief backs Six Nations TV paywall
Posted by: Faithful_City (IP Logged)
Date: 24 September, 2020 11:52

Wales Online

New interim WRU chief executive Steve Phillips would be receptive to future Six Nations tournaments being televised by pay-per-view providers.

Phillips has also discussed the mouth-watering prospect of a British and Irish League being formed in the future following the investment of private equity firm CVC Capital Partners in both the Guinness PRO14 and the English Premiership.

And he's backed a continuation of the current 60-cap rule, which he says is working for Welsh rugby.

Former union finance director Phillips said the recent deal with Amazon Prime for the Autumn Nations Cup - reportedly worth £15m between the participating unions - was a welcome development, with the safety net in Wales that games will also be broadcast free to air by Welsh-language broadcaster S4C.

It was confirmed on Wednesday that Wales will play their rescheduled home Six Nations match against Scotland at Llanelli's Parc y Scarlets, which will also be the venue for their first home Autumn Nations Cup clash with Georgia.


As for the funding the autumn's Amazon Prime deal will bring, it is on the same percentage share basis agreed for the Six Nations TV deal.

Mr Phillips said: "For the Six Nations, England and France are marginally bigger, so we have ended up with a blended average between the two [tournaments] and Wales has an agreed percentage and that has been applied to what Amazon will pay."

The Six Nations 2021 tournament will be the last year in the current split terrestrial TV deal involving the BBC and ITV.

On the tournament, which is not protected by the UK Government as a 'crown jewel' sporting event which must be shown free to air, also going down a pay to view or pay per view route, Mr Phillips said: "I think Amazon coming in [for the autumn tournament] is great news.

"Itís a new entrant and a massive brand. S4C also has rights which for us in Wales and the Welsh language is very important.

Asked if the WRU would be receptive to the Six Nations from being through a paid-for TV channel or platform from 2022, he added: "Yes, we would be. But that would need to be done in conjunction with all the other unions.

"If normality returns, we will have a standard programme of Wales games in the autumn of 2021 anyway and because we have now all joined up [home nations on TV deals] we would be doing the media rights all at one time."

Elsewhere, the Guinness PRO14 league, made up of teams from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and South Africa, recently struck a deal with private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, which has invested around £120m in return for a minority equity stake of 28%.

The WRU will draw down its guaranteed £30m of funding from the deal over the next four years, with CVCís equity interest ratcheted up accordingly.

*Mr Phillips said: "Due to Covid, there is a contingency piece in it as well which if you hit all the metrics could see a further £6m or £7m.

"The sooner you draw [CVC money] down, the quicker you get diluted as well. If you donít believe that CVC can move the commercial dial, you should never have done it and we do believe that they can. By the time that we get diluted by 28% we are hopeful that the dial has moved accordingly."

But couldnít the unions, whether collectively or individually, have raised similar amounts without giving away equity in the PRO14 to a private equity firm with a longer-term exit strategy Ė for example with the WRU raising finance securitised against future income from the Principality Stadium?

Mr Phillips said: "Those kind of conversations were had and the deal has been done. You have got to take on board that these guys know what they are doing and have a track record in Formula 1 and MotoGP."


With CVCís minority equity stake also in the English Premiership, having invested more than £200m in 2018, what are the prospects for a future British Isles league involving clubs and regions in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland?

Ammanford-born Mr Phillips said: "It is definitely an option and what they [CVC] are very good at, and have demonstrated, is bringing people together. They are big on synergies and 'banging heads together'.

"Itís an option, but it is not the only option. Their pitch, which they did very well, was based on their track record on what they could do in the commercial space. Their theme is getting returns back to the clubs that are participating.

* I wonder if the Prem also has this contingency with CVC?


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 24/09/2020 11:55 by Faithful_City.

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