Talks over CVC investment in Six Nations must not be rushed - Gareth Davies

Wales celebrate winning the 2019 Six Nations title
Wales celebrate winning the 2019 Six Nations title

Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies says a decision to sell a Six Nations stake to a private equity firm must not be accelerated because of the coronavirus crisis.

The unions announced last September they were in negotiations with CVC Capital Partners (CVC) about investing in the tournament.

Six Nations bosses insists discussions are ongoing.

"It's important we don't press the panic button," said Davies.

"The important thing and everybody must be aware that we as the Six Nations group don't make this decision on the back of a crisis going on.

"This decision will have a long term effect on future incomes for Six Nations.

"These discussions started 12 months ago and we came to a conclusion pre-pandemic this a good progressive project in terms of funding the game.

"So we have to make those decisions in the cold light of day, not under the stress of facing the pandemic."

The French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Bernard Laporte reportedly told the organisation's annual general meeting at the weekend CVC could acquire a 14.5% stake in the tournament.

Laporte is also the Six Nations vice president with tournament bosses insisting no decision is imminent or could even be considered a formality.

"We are a fair bit off agreeing any deal and those discussions are ongoing," said Davies, a Six Nations Rugby Limited tournament director.

"It's a complex scenario and there's some still some way to run."

CVC, which previously had a major stake in Formula 1, has already invested in the Pro14 and Premiership leagues.

Any proposed Six Nations deal has been reported as CVC investing between £300m and £400m which would be distributed across the unions.

"We might be giving away around 14% of revenues moving forward but the deal isn't as simple as somebody writing a blank cheque," said Davies.

"It's a payment in lieu of a share of the business in the hope the expertise commercially of someone like CVC would help increase future revenue.

"We're getting the payment over a five-year period which gives some some assurance and security. But any upside depends on what Six Nations and CVC can do together to generate increase revenues."

WRU chairman Gareth Davies on the funding options available to Welsh rugby

One of the major debates arising from CVC involvement is the prospect of the Six Nations going from free-to-air television to a subscription service.

Wales' home games are shown by BBC with the tournament shared with ITV, under a deal that ends in 2021.

"We are facing a lot of pressure to retain free-to-air and we see the importance of that in terms of accessibility," said Davies.

"It's a case of trying to get the right mix. All unions understand that and it has been part of the ongoing discussions with CVC.

"With the pandemic there is greater pressure on the unions to to look for a bigger paycheque but there's also a responsibility on all broadcasters to understand that.

"If people value the competition they have to pay the appropriate price."

Davies admitted Wales were still waiting to see who they would face this autumn but confirmed a rearranged summer overseas tour to Japan and New Zealand would not realistically happen.

Davies also said an official decision on whether the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa next year would be moved from July and August to October could be made at a Lions board meeting on Thursday.

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