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RFU and Premiership Rugby strike new financial pact

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL), which governs the top division of the club game in England, have agreed terms on a new eight-year partnership worth over £200m (€235.2m/$259.6m) that is designed to further boost the national team while allowing clubs to benefit from its successful financial performance for the first time.

The new deal announced today (Monday) will run through to July 2024. Premiership clubs will benefit from the successful financial performance of England Rugby as PRL and the RFU said they have agreed an “appropriate share” of rugby revenues as a basis for the investment over the life of the deal.

The partnership is worth over £200m, with the first four-year payment fixed at £112m. The second four-year payment could potentially be higher than £112m subject to financial performance under the rugby revenue share partnership approach. The funding model for the clubs is based on the English Qualified Player (EQP) threshold being met, as well as the Elite Player Squads (EPS) and standards for club academies being achieved.

The Professional Game Agreement will see the England Elite Player Squad (EPS) increase from 33 to 45 players and grant greater flexibility during core international periods so 36 players can be selected for the camp instead of 33.

As part of a regular season England players will continue to have, as a minimum, a 10-week off-season in the summer for rest and preparation prior to the first weekend of the Premiership season. On average last season, the RFU said players involved in the England senior side played an equivalent of just over 23 matches, well under the maximum limit of 32.

The second-tier Championship will continue to have play-off finals in the 2016-17 season. However the format will be negotiated between the Championship clubs, RFU and PRL for the following season and beyond. Premiership Rugby will also now manage and sell the commercial rights of the Anglo Welsh Cup from the beginning of this season while the RFU will continue to regulate the competition. The RFU and Premiership Rugby will also commit to a multi-million pound community programme.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said: “This is a true partnership focussed on making English rugby the best in the world for club and country. A strong partnership between the RFU and the PRL is critical if we are to grow professional rugby across the country for the benefit of the players, fans and the game.

“Player welfare, as ever, is a priority for us all, and so further rest periods have been built into the season. The RFU is focussed on investing in Premiership clubs, to ensure they are sustainable, thriving businesses, which will develop players for the national game.”

Mark McCafferty Premiership Rugby chief executive, added: “The next year will also be very important in working together to secure the necessary improvements to the global season structure.

“The significantly increased monies to the Premiership clubs, alongside their own increased TV and commercial revenues, will ensure that Aviva Premiership Rugby continues to go from strength to strength based on world-class England Qualified Players (EQPs) and a very strong academy pipeline of talent. In addition, this is intended to underpin further European success.”