SRU gives huge back­ing to out­side in­vest­ment in pro clubs

The Herald - Herald Sport - - RUGBY UNION - STUARTBATHGATE

THE Scot­tish Rugby Union can now go ahead and seek out­side in­vest­ment in Glas­gow and Ed­in­burgh af­ter re­ceiv­ing over­whelm­ing sup­port at last night’s spe­cial gen­eral meet­ing.

The mo­tion to sell a stake in the two pro­fes­sional teams and the acad­e­mies needed a two-thirds ma­jor­ity of the 167 rep­re­sen­ta­tives who were at Mur­ray­field and el­i­gi­ble to vote, and the show of hands was close to or at 100 per cent.

No-one voted against the mo­tion, but the size of the back­ing meant there was no need to count any pos­si­ble ab­sten­tions. Only 106 vot­ers were re­quired to at­tend to en­sure a quo­rum.

The mo­tion was for­mally pro­posed by SRU pres­i­dent Rob Flock­hart and sec­onded by chair­man of the board Sir Moir Lock­head, but it was the gov­ern­ing body’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Mark Dod­son, who ad­dressed the meet­ing and took ques­tions be­fore the vote. He said ex­ter­nal in­vest­ment was vi­tal to en­sure that Scot­land was not left be­hind by richer unions, and in­sisted an in­crease in over­all in­come would help the union in­crease its fund­ing of the do­mes­tic game.

“We need to pro­tect the do­mes­tic game from the ef­fects of in­fla­tion in the pro­fes­sional game,” said Dod­son, adding that while in­fla­tion in the do­mes­tic game was run­ning at around two per cent, the fig­ure in the pro­fes­sional one was now in ex­cess of 25 per cent.

He also high­lighted the cur­rent dis­par­ity be­tween the Scot­tish teams and their ri­val: Ed­in­burgh’s an­nual bud­get is £4.8mil­lion and Glas­gow’s is £5.1m, but at French clubs the salary cap for player costs alone is close to £10.5m, while in Eng­land the ba­sic player bud­get per club is £7m, ris­ing with ex­tras to around £9m.

Asked by club rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Dod­son re­it­er­ated the union’s in­ten­tion to re­tain a ma­jor­ity share in the pro­posed new com­pany that will run the two pro teams and acad­e­mies. He did, how­ever, add if he re­ceived an of­fer to take ma­jor­ity con­trol or buy the newco out­right, he would re­fer the mat­ter back to the SRU’s board be­fore pro­ceed­ing. Dod­son plans to take his pro­posal to mar­ket in the new year.

The mo­tion read: “Sub­ject al­ways to the prior ap­proval of the board of di­rec­tors of Scot­tish Rugby Union plc (the ‘com­pany’) and on such terms as the board of di­rec­tors shall con­sider ap­pro­pri­ate, that the com­pany be and is au­tho­rised to dis­pose to a third party or par­ties, whether by sale of or sub­scrip­tion for eq­uity, as­sign­ment, sale, trans­fer or oth­er­wise, of any part, or if thought fit or aris­ing through a series of trans­ac­tions, all of the busi­ness, un­der­tak­ing, as­sets or in­ter­ests of the com­pany com­prised from time to time within its pro­fes­sional and per­for­mance rugby op­er­a­tions.

“This author­ity shall not ex­tend to the dis­posal of the whole or any sub­stan­tial part of the com­pany’s her­i­ta­ble prop­erty at BT Mur­ray­field Sta­dium, Ed­in­burgh, not­with­stand­ing its use to sup­port pro­fes­sional and per­for­mance rugby ac­tiv­ity.”

DOD­SON: ‘We must pro­tect the game’

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