Premiership’s plans to cash in on World Cup go up in smoke
‘This is not at all what sponsors want after the feel-good factor of Japan’
The Saracens furore is disastrous timing for Premiership Rugby, which was plotting to profit from England’s success at the World Cup, sponsorship chiefs said last night.
Private equity group CVC Capital Partners, which bought a 27 per cent stake last year, is said to be particularly sore, having seen this season as a launch pad for international sponsorship and TV deals. Saracens face being docked 35 points and fined more than £5million for multiple breaches of the salary cap regulations in a league facing increasing financial pressure. Last year the 13 clubs, 12 in the league plus London Irish, racked up overall losses of £50 million.
CVC had been hoping that performances from the likes of Owen Farrell in Japan would boost the chances of streaming giants such as Amazon bidding for rights. The Premiership’s main broadcast contract is held by BT Sport to 2021.
However, Tom Gladstone, head of strategy at Engine Sport, which works with Mitsubishi and other international rugby sponsors, told
The Daily Telegraph that the scandal tarnished negotiations for potential brand deals.
“It is not the narrative that rugby administrators, broadcasters or sponsors would want as they try to capitalise on the feel-good factor from the World Cup,” Gladstone said. “The return of Saracens’ massive World Cup contingent is a big marketing opportunity, but that now seems tarnished by the salarycap breach.” He added that “rugby’s commercial value is unlikely to be impacted” in the long term.
Simon Dent, founder of sports agency Dark Horses, which promoted the Football Association’s Heads Up campaign with the Duke of Cambridge, said: “This is rugby’s first major scandal, so it wouldn’t surprise me if brands got spooked. A lot of brands choose rugby not just because it’s cheaper than sports such as football, but because it doesn’t have the negative connotations that can come with football – this changes that.”
Fred Nathan, a sport consultant at Alex Donohue PR, said it was “the most terrible timing imaginable for the Premiership”.
Premiership Rugby was contacted for comment.