RFU pon­ders sell­ing Twick­en­ham name

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Gavin Mairs

The Rugby Football Union is con­sid­er­ing sell­ing the nam­ing rights to Twick­en­ham as it seeks to max­imise the fi­nan­cial re­turns from the his­toric home of English rugby.

Twick­en­ham is the only re­main­ing un­spon­sored sta­dium of the four home unions and any com­mer­cial deal to al­ter the name of the venue is likely to anger tra­di­tion­al­ists.

However, the RFU is in­vest­ing £54mil­lion in a re­de­vel­op­ment of the East Stand of the 82,000-seat sta­dium and says it is “open-minded” about the pos­si­bil­ity of a nam­ing-rights spon­sor­ship deal. Stephen Brown, the govern­ing body’s new chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “We wouldn’t rule out any ap­pro­pri­ate com­mer­cial op­por­tu­nity for the venue, the fan-base and the stake­hold­ers.

“At the end of the day, we have an obli­ga­tion to max­imise the po­ten­tial of our as­sets and en­sure we have money to rein­vest. We wouldn’t rule it out at all, but it would have to be right. It’s more than just the value – it has to match what we’re trying to do here.”

He added: “Twick­en­ham is syn­ony­mous with English rugby. Maybe there is a dif­fer­ent way of do­ing it – you don’t have to have a branded sta­dium.”

Mean­while, the RFU is un­likely to fol­low the Football As­so­ci­a­tion and in­vest in a na­tional train­ing centre simi- lar to the £120 mil­lion fa­cil­ity at St Ge­orge’s Park as rec­om­mended in a 2013 re­view of elite struc­ture.

However, fol­low­ing a two-year study of the de­vel­op­ment of Manch­ester City’s sta­dium and train­ing fa­cil­i­ties, the RFU looks set to re­main at the cur­rent train­ing base of Pen­ny­hill Park. “The crux is the per­for­mance ben­e­fit you get,” said Brown. “It might need to be near Twick­en­ham, which brings cost and other chal­lenges. And in the rel­a­tively short time the Eng­land team are to­gether, it is quite hard to make a case that we would make that in­vest­ment.”

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