Belfast Telegraph

PRO14 deal to see IRFU land £34m windfall

By Robert Jones

The IRFU is in line for a €40m (£34m) cash injection after the Guinness PRO14 agreed a deal in principle to sell a 27 per cent stake in the league to private equity firm CVC Capital.

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Along with the Welsh, Scottish, South African and Italian unions, the IRFU are partners in the tournament and all parties are set to benefit from the €140m (£119m) deal.

CVC have taken a similar stake in Premiership Rugby and are in advanced talks with the Six Nations in a move that would see them emerge as major players in the European game.

The deal would see the private equity firm - which owned Formula One between 2006 and 2017 - take control of the league's commercial rights, mirroring the deal they currently have with English clubs.

"Celtic Rugby DAC and its shareholders can confirm a request has been filed to the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for Merger and Acquisition clearance by CVC Capital Partners," read a statement from Celtic Rugby DAC.

"The request has been made in relation to a potential transaction involving Celtic Rugby DAC and CVC Capital Partners.

"Both parties are involved in advanced discussions."

WRU chairman Gareth Davies welcomed the deal.

"The rugby element will be controlled by the Unions and professional team," he said.

"Rugby is not always good at working together. It probably needs an external partner to knock heads and more commercialise what is regarded as an underexploited sport."

Meanwhile, the All Blacks and Argentina will join Japan as Scotland's opponents in the 2020 autumn Tests at BT Murrayfield.

Scottish Rugby has confirmed that Gregor Townsend's side will open the campaign against the Pumas on the weekend of November 6, followed by the previously announced fixture against the Brave Blossoms a week later.

The Scots will finish the series against the world's second ranked side New Zealand over the weekend of November 20.

BT Murrayfield is already a 67,000 sell-out for the 2020 Calcutta Cup match against England on February 8 in the Guinness Six Nations and head coach Townsend is relishing the challenges in the year ahead.

He said: "Representing your country is the pinnacle and in 2020 we will have opportunities to pit ourselves against some of the world's leading teams.

"To host Argentina, Japan and New Zealand at BT Murrayfield following our games against England and France in the Six Nations provides fantastic competitive challenges."

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