RBS 'could be back' for Six Nations given lack of title sponsor offers
The organisers of European rugby union’s Six Nations are facing the prospect of having to accept an offer of £11 million ($14.5 million) per year, much less than had been hoped, from established partner Royal Bank of Scotland if they are to have a title sponsor in place for next year’s competition, it has been reported.
With less than four months to go until the kick-off, that is the only bid on the table, according to the UK’s Times newspaper.
RBS has been the title sponsor of the Six Nations for 14 years, but announced in June 2016 that it would not be renewing as it was opting to pursue an “alternative sponsorship strategy.”
However, despite talks with over 150 companies, the organisers have been unable to secure a replacement willing to meet the asking price of £100 million over six years.
It is thought that HSBC, another bank, was only willing to pay this amount if its deal included rights to the British and Irish Lions, for which it was previously the main sponsor, but that this was rejected.
It is reported that having earlier rejected a bid of £15 million per year from RBS, the organisers went back to its previous sponsor to see if the offer still stood, only to find it did not, and that the bank was only willing to put up £9 million, a figure that has now risen to £11 million, the same as for the 2017 tournament.
The 2018 Six Nations, involving defending champions England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales, kicks off on 3 February.
While the competition is enjoying an ever-increasing international profile, as shown by the recent broadcasting rights deal with NBC, the US national network, rugby is proving to be a hard sell to sponsors in the current economic climate.
Ahead of tomorrow’s kick-off of the fourth season of the competition, there are no new sponsors for the European Rugby Champions Cup, on top of existing major partners Heineken and Turkish Airlines, while England’s top-tier Premiership Rugby had to retain Aviva, the insurance company, as its title sponsor for the 2017-18 campaign, on reduced terms, having been unable to find a replacement.