Premiership Rugby close to deal with Gallagher as new title sponsor

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live rugby reporter
Premiership trophy in Times Square, New York
The Premiership trophy was on display in New York before London Irish and Saracens met in New Jersey in 2016

Global insurance brokers Gallagher are close to signing a long-term deal as the Premiership's new title sponsors.

Illinois-based Gallagher are set to replace Aviva, who have sponsored the domestic game's top flight since 2010.

The multi-million pound deal comes as a welcome boost to the Premiership, with the majority of clubs currently losing money year on year.

This tie-up will also strengthen English rugby union's footprint in the United States.

The Premiership has staged a handful of regular-season matches in the US in recent years, and has also signed a television contract with NBC.

Premiership Rugby has yet to confirm the deal, but sources have indicated it is a sign of the growing reach and appeal of the English club game.

An increase in the league's central revenues is seen as a key part of the bid by clubs for long-term economic sustainability.

This week it was revealed South African businessman Johann Rupert was selling his stake in European champions Saracens, sparking fears about the financial viability of the club game.

"Premiership Rugby is at an advanced stage of confirming our title partner for the start of the 2018-19 season," a spokesman told the BBC.

"We can't comment on the names of any companies who are part of this process."