Welsh rugby is set for a massive £35million cash injection as a result of CVC investing in the Guinness PRO14.
Private equity firm CVC are reported to have concluded a deal to buy a 27 per cent share in the cross-border competition for a figure in excess of £100m.
That follows a similar investment arrangement with England’s Gallagher Premiership, which has received around £200m.
The PRO14 is owned by the three Celtic Unions - Wales, Ireland and Scotland - so the money from CVC would be shared out equally between them.
That would see as much as £35m coming into the Welsh game as a one-off payment.
Under the investment deal, which has been in discussion for a number of months, 27 per cent of the tournament’s income would be passed on to CVC each year.
News of the impending cash boost was revealed at the Welsh Rugby Union’s Annual General Meeting at the Principality Stadium today.
Speaking after the meeting, WRU chairman Gareth Davies said: “Private equity have invested into the Gallagher Premiership in England, which has obviously created a lot of interest.
“There’s almost a natural progression to look at the PRO14, I suppose.
“Discussions are ongoing and and it looks as though that could be moving forward.
“That would see an inflow of money into Ireland, Scotland and Wales, which is obviously well received.
“Hopefully there will be some extra funds flowing into our coffers.
“The money will come into the Union first of all.
“In England, it’s just gone directly to the clubs, because they were the ones negotiating.
“We are in discussion with the regions and they will obviously benefit, as will other aspects of the game.
“The regions will benefit, while some of that money will go to the community game and potentially the women’s game, as we have many hungry mouths to feed.”
On the principle of such a deal, Davies said: “We are not selling part of the Unions, we are selling a competition, the commercial arm of the competition.
“The game itself, the rugby element, will still be controlled by the Unions and the professional teams.
“It’s an interesting departure and development. Rugby isn’t always good at working together, in terms of the best results, because there are lots of areas of self-interest.
“So it probably needs an external partner to come in and knock heads together in many respects and to more commercialise what is probably regarded as an under-exploited sport in terms of commercialism.”
In another development from today’s AGM, it’s been revealed that Liza Burgess will become the first woman to be elected to the WRU board by the member clubs in its 138-year history.
Former Wales player and coach Burgess, who won 87 caps, joined the WRU Council at the AGM after winning recent club elections.
And she is now the only candidate standing for the position of WRU director on the board, a post vacated by the retiring Anthony Buchanan.
She will be formally elected as a WRU director next Tuesday at a meeting chaired by new WRU president Gerald Davies.
Former Wales and Lions winger Davies is taking over from Dennis Gethin, who bowed out at the AGM after 12 years in the role.