Rugby Union

Irish rugby facing losses of E20m despite PRO14 investment boost

IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne (left), pictured with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, has called for government financial support for sport.

IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has suggested that “without Government financial support sport will take a generation to get back on its feet, leaving an enormous void at the heart of communities throughout the land.”

The rugby chief said the level of “financial loss being encountered by all sporting organisations” due to the Covid-19 crisis “is catastrophic and rugby is no exception.”

Irish rugby’s “mammoth financial issues” comprise the IRFU facing revenue losses of €15/€20 million if this year’s Six Nations are not completed and the Guinness Autumn series cancelled.

There is a silver lining amid the current dark clouds with the announcement that the Guinness PRO14 has completed a significant strategic partnership investment from CVC Capital Partners Fund VII.

Under this agreement, CVC Fund VII will acquire a 28 per cent share of PRO14 Rugby in a deal which will bring Irish rugby around £30m sterling (net of costs), with an initial sum to be paid yesterday of around £5m.

However, Browne warned that the IRFU’s cash reserves are likely to be exhausted “within a matter of months” as almost 70 clubs have already applied for support through the Club Continuity Support Fund “and this will only grow.”

The IRFU’s ‘Return to Train and Play’ protocols are aiming for the penultimate weekend of August to feature Guinness PRO14 derby fixtures involving the four Irish provinces – behind closed doors at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

* Meanwhile, in Northern Irish soccer, the NI Football League has now indicated that it (alongside the Irish FA) will continue to liaise with UEFA to comply with their deadlines in respect of nomination of clubs to participate in next season’s European Club Competitions. NIFL’s Covid-19 Steering Group will consult all key stakeholders and member clubs to input into the nomination process.

Uefa is seeking nominations by July 20 but the NIFL season will not be completed by then so hard decisions will have to be made during next month.

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Rugby Union