Altrad 'in talks' over Six Nations as FFR seeks long-term shirt sponsor
Altrad, the French construction materials firm, has emerged as a potential replacement for Royal Bank of Scotland as the title sponsor of European rugby union’s prestigious Six Nations.
With just three months until the start of the 2018 competition, the organisers have yet to secure a main partner although RBS is understood to have submitted a low-cost offer to remain on board.
Altrad, which is the current shirt sponsor of the French national team, is also in the mix.
The company told the UK’s Mail on Sunday newspaper: “Altrad Group is in talks. The tender process is still out for the 2018 competition so we have maybe two months to come to an agreement if it is going to happen.”
The tender coincides with a newly-launched process to find a long-term shirt sponsor for the French team.
It was previously reported that Altrad would seek an extended deal worth €5.4 million ($6.3 million) per year, although it may now have switched its focus to the Six Nations.
The company, which is headed up by Syrian billionaire Mohed Altrad, the president of French Top 14 club Montpellier, became France’s first-ever shirt sponsor this year as it sported its logo underneath that of the country’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid, in a deal that expires this month.
The Six Nations organisers were targeting a title sponsorship deal worth £100 million ($131 million) over six years after RBS announced in June 2016 that it would not be renewing, after 14 years, as it was opting to pursue an “alternative sponsorship strategy.”
However, despite talks with over 150 companies, they are thought to have had to lower their sights.
The latest offer from RBS was said to amount to £11 million, the same amount it paid for the 2017 competition.
The 2018 Six Nations, involving defending champions England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales, kicks off on 3 February.
Last week, the FFR, the French rugby federation, launched a consultation procedure to find a shirt sponsor for the national team for a six-year period starting in 2018.
Interested parties were requested to submit offers by 16 November at the latest.
The FFR said that it would inform the bidders whether their bids had been accepted or rejected no later than a first steering committee meeting on 22 November.
It added candidates would be bound by their offer until 31 January, 2018, by which date the selected company will have to have signed the relevant contract.
Companies interested in the opportunity can still request the technical specifications by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
France was the last major rugby-playing nation without a shirt sponsor after the New Zealand Rugby Union broke with its tradition to sign a five-and-a-half-year deal with AIG, the global insurance corporation, in 2012.
The FFR initially sought between €6 million and €10 million per year in an intiative that was part of president Bernard Laporte’s election manifesto.
However, the partnership with Altrad has proved to be somewhat controversial, with Laporte accused of favouritism in meddling with the appeals board’s sanctions against Montpellier in relation to supporters banners displayed last season.
Seven members of the appeals board have since resigned, and it was
revealed by Journal du Dimanche that Altrad Investment Authority, owned by
Altrad, and BL Communication, managed by Laporte, signed a one-year
partnership last February to give management talks to employees.
Laporte has rejected allegations of wrongdoing and claimed that he did not try to influence the board’s decision, but instead phoned Jean-Daniel Simonet, the appeals board chairman, to offer “political perspective.” He has since ended the agreement with Altrad Investment Authority amid the increasing pressure.