RFU ponders selling Twickenham name
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.”