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CVC ‘close to’ Six Nations deal, FFR projecting losses

President of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) Bernard Laporte (by Dave Winter/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Bernard Laporte has revealed private equity firm CVC Capital Partners is close to finalising a deal to acquire a stake in the Six Nations tournament, as the national governing body said it expects to make a loss of €5.63m ($6.35m) for the 2020-21 season due to financial aid handed out amid Covid-19.

Laporte was speaking as the FFR held its general assembly. The newly-elected vice-chairman of World Rugby provided an update on the situation surrounding CVC’s proposed investment in the Six Nations national team tournament.

In May, CVC completed its acquisition of a 28-per-cent stake in the Pro14 cross-border rugby union competition from league organising body Celtic Rugby DAC. However, its ambitions for the Six Nations have been held up by the global pandemic.

CVC has been in talks with the Six Nations about acquiring a 14-per-cent stake, with its cash injection set to provide welcome relief for member unions who are struggling financially due to Covid-19. “The health crisis has delayed discussions, but we are at the end of the negotiations,” Laporte said, according to French newspaper L’Équipe.

“It is an opportunity for us. Between 75 and 80 million (euros) will be redistributed (to the FFR) over five years. I remind you that this is a marketing and commercial management which will not interfere in the sports field, as some fear.”

The likely welcoming of fresh investment was illustrated as the FFR presented its draft budget for the 2020-21 season. The draft budget, which did not include current unknowns such as CVC’s proposed deal, outlines total expenditure of €126.4m and revenues of €120.7m, resulting in the projected loss of €5.63m.

The FFR approved the second phase of its French Rugby Recovery Plan, which will divert a further €21m to clubs during the current health crisis. This comes on top of an initial payment of €14m.

Alexandre Martinez, treasurer of the FFR, said: “It is important to remember that outside the recovery plan, the (financial) result would be positive but it was unthinkable for the FFR not to come to the aid of its clubs when they need it most. The decision of this financial effort is fully supported because it is our responsibility that no club is left in trouble.”