Rugby Football Union: O2 signs new five-year deal with RFU

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney
RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney says it is "great to collaborate with a partner that shares our passion to see the women's game flourish"

Mobile network operator O2 has pledged to fund the men's and women's games equally after signing a new five-year deal with the Rugby Football Union.

The new agreement begins in September 2021 and is reportedly worth £7.5m per yearexternal-link, extending its time as principal shirt sponsor into three decades.

England's RFU said in July it faced short-term losses of up to £107m.

"O2's commitment to equally support both our elite teams is commendable," RFU chief executive Billy Sweeney said.

The announcement will be welcome news for the governing body, which called for a government bailout last month, after suffering huge financial losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With all of the autumn's matches and the entire 2021 Six Nations set to be played behind closed doors, the RFU has forecast a £138m reduction in revenue and losses of £60m.

It has made 140 redundancies in an attempt to ease its financial crisis.

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