Former Ireland international Donal Lenihan believes its is “inevitable” that the Six Nations Championship will eventually go behind a paywall.
Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners have recently acquired 14.5% of commercial rights for the Six Nations, in a deal reported to be worth €408 million to the six unions.
CVC have previously invested in the Formula One, and have been accused of trying to extract as much money as possible out of the motor sport, with little regard to it’s long-term future.
Less than 3 weeks to go…..
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) January 18, 2021
Lenihan, who toured with the British and Irish Lions in 1983 and 1989, fears a similar fate may befall rugby, and that it is only a matter of time before Europe’s flagship tournament becomes unavailable to viewers unwilling to pay.
‘Rugby will be forced into taking the big bucks’
Rugby union’s across the world are currently struggling financially due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with the IRFU receiving an €18 million emergency fund from the Irish government back in November.
That emergency fund still comes well short of making up for the record €35.7 million deficit the IRFU posted last year, meaning unions had little choice but to turn to private investment to stay afloat.