The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

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The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by Pot Hale on Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:28 pm

First topic message reminder :

I stepped out and she stepped in again
I stepped out and she stepped in again
learning to dance for Lanigan's Ball


In thinking about recent goings-on at union level within the PRO12, I was reminded of the lyrics of this old song as unions, corporate interests, private investors, Welsh benefactors, and sundry money-makers make their various moves on the PRO12 dance floor.  Scotland and Ireland seem to be bashfully eyeing up the investor lads on one side of the hall, fluttering their eyelashes, whilst on the other side, the Welsh bennys (as they're affectionately known Wink ) are making tapes and throwing shapes, whilst secretly hoping eagerly that they might get a chance to sign the WRU's card for a dance or two.  Meanwhile, the Italians dither in the middle wondering where they should be but won't tell anyone that they don't know even the music.  

But for now the band has taken a break whilst the visiting Europeans and Anglo heavies make their way onto the floor to start their version of French/Anglo hopscotch involving a number of bulky partners, foreign tap dancers, celtic coaches, and comic millionaires.

It's a good a time as any for a quick cuppa and a chance to talk about where the PRO12 is going with all the plans for expansion to US and Europe suddenly gone quiet, some league quality improvements, big weekend derbies, more neutral officials, and what else is on the horizon for upcoming changes within the PRO12.

The looming spectre of dwindling money and funding ever more expensive teams for the future seems to be the next big issue and where that is all going to come from.   Hopes of improved TV deals, better sponsors and business supporters of the league remain a distant aspiration - although the recent appointment of a commercial director to work alongside Martin Anayi on securing the best deals possible seems to be a step in the right direction.  Some are holding their whisth on that one.

Ownership and financing of the teams themselves is the most urgent and vexing issue facing the four unions operating in the PRO12.  Over the last number of months, the SRU have been making a lot of noise and some news headlines with their plans to bring in private investment to its two Scottish clubs to help meet some of the ongoing costs involved.   The SRU says it can't continue to finance the two teams at current levels of revenue and costs, and they need to bring in private investors/business to meet a substantial portion of the costs in return for a stake in one or both of the two clubs.  How much that stake would be is not clear as the SRU would want to keep their hand in the two clubs responsible for generating its line of test players, but whether that would be a 51% stake or less remains to be seen.   A voting process in late 2016 saw members give the green light to the Scottish Union to pursue this path of identifying and securing potential investment but only time will tell if it will draw in any worthwhile investors.

Italian rugby seems to lurch from one crisis to the next with the FIR having to bail out both Treviso and Zebre in recent times with substantial commitments of money.  After the last crisis, which saw a number of players leave the two clubs, it is Treviso who have fared better with the backing of Bennetton, and it is Zebre who are staring down the barrel of closure at season end once again.  A new franchise, based in Rome, is being rumoured to be on the cards with the FIR willing to put financial support into its development.   For many within the PRO12, and without, the Italian project seems to be a wasted exercise and just amounts to weekly humiliation as opposition teams pile up the points, regularly taking home try bonus points in their victories. For others, the Italian involvement is a long game and one that has to be persevered with.    Yet, the FIR is still not a shareholder in Celtic Rugby, the company which manages the PRO12 - the latest filings with the Companies Registration Office in Dublin shows that the three Celtic unions remain the founding shareholders, and critically, the beneficiaries of any financial dealing that flow through it - particularly in relation to TV broadcasting deals such as Sky Sports.  This current season, it took until Round 6 before an Italian broadcaster could be secured for covering the home matches of Treviso and Zebre, and with crowds often hovering around 1,500-2,000, this didn't raise many eyebrows.  for the foreseeable future, Italian rugby will stay within the PRO12, and the FIR will continue to be a major stakeholder/financier in the teams.

Irish rugby has been dabbling with business support for a number of years now with the provincial teams drawing in sponsorships, player salary top-ups, and increasing financial support for the various provinces through different types of schemes devised by the individual branches.   Jamie Heaslip recently re-signed with Leinster on what's likely to be his final playing contract before retirement (at age 37).  One of Ireland’s most consistent and durable players, he’s also been one of the most consistently highest paid through his IRFU central contract, and a salary top-up through his Leinster club with a business sponsorship deal with Bank of Ireland.  

But these adhoc business supports and extended sponsorships/player promotions and brand ambassadors do not fill the coffers of the branches sufficiently to grow and expand, it's sufficient only to pay the salaries of 2-3 players to keep them in place against ever higher competing offers from the TV-deal-enriched clubs in England and France.  As the IRFU pointed at the launch of its annual report last June, the IRFU cannot continue to be "the bank of last resort" for the provinces - following a €1 million plus bailout of Munster, and a €250k additional budget for each province to help them compete on player salaries.   A number of the provinces have sought quietly to persuade the IRFU to consider opening up the provinces’ branch company structures to allow private investors to take a stake in each of the provinces in return for continued investment over a period of time.  Until the last year, those overtures have been largely rebuffed with the occasional odd positive murmur about the need to keep control if such a development were to be envisaged.   It is rumoured that alongside the SRU’s current moves, the IRFU is also investigating how the branches’ structures could be altered to allow such investment in the future.  A variant of the NZRU model whereby they allowed private investors to take a stake in each of the five Super Rugby franchises is being considered, but the IRFU would want to maintain a controlling stake that gives them oversight and control in line with the current player management policy and protocols they have in place.  

As the IRFU have stated time and again, the revenues from the test game is what keeps the whole of Irish rugby afloat - interfering with or disabling that in some way is not something they would countenance.  Equally, the union recognises that costs will continue to rise in the PRO12 and wider club game with player salaries being biggest driver.   Their investment policy has switched from paying out large salaries to high-profile capped foreign players to investing in the domestic pathway development (€10m over the last 3 years) - with the emergence of some fine academy players across the provinces proving testament to this approach led by David Nucifora on behalf of the IRFU.

Nonetheless, the club game is getting bigger and more financially competitive so if a methodology can be developed to allow private investment takes its place at the table, it’s likely to happen over the next few years.  

But as two unions move across the dance floor looking for wealthy partners, the Welsh benefactors are being drawn (protestingly for some) from the other side by the WRU who have recently announced that they see the future of the Welsh game involving a marriage of both union and private investment funds.  As two unions prepare to step out, the Welsh union is preparing to step in again.   The Dragons region has been languishing in the shop window for the past year, gathering dust as various investor-type people amble up, take a poke and move off again without buying.   Martin Phillps was pushed recently in an interview to say that the WRU couldn't allow the region to fold, but he wasn't too specific in public as to what kind of support they might bring.  Equally, he was encouraged enough to say that increased union funding for the four regions seemed to be inevitable - but he didn't say what price they might extract for such investment.  Would the benefactors/shareholders be asked to move on, or move around the table to make more room for union faces to sit down?  

Whilst there are those who pine for a future whereby pure private investment and ownership rules the roost like their counterparts in England and France, the likelihood of that model being created and surviving does not seem to be on anyone's dance cards.   More likely, a marriage of convenience may be arrived at, wherein true love may never be expressed, but at least the two parties will be able to pay the mortgage together, and maybe afford a new extension or two in the near future to mix a few metaphors.

But for now, let the European hopscotch begin, and then the merry four-nation dance can begin again.

All together now:

Sixteen long years we spent in Dub-i-lin
Sixteen long years doin' nothing at all
Sixteen long years we spent in Dub-i-lin
Learning to dance at the PRO12 ball.

They stepped out, and they stepped in again......
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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by Pete C (Kiwireddevil) on Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:18 pm

marty2086 wrote:Cheetahs were always more of a mid table team were they not?
Lower mid table at best, 2013 excepted when they scraped into the playoffs

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by geoff999rugby on Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:53 pm

Translated from Treviso official site

#BenettonRugby announces that the start of the 2017/2018 season ticket season, set for Monday, July 10th, was postponed to date.
More information will follow in the coming days.

Suggests a change in structure i.e, no longer 11 home games

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by geoff999rugby on Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:56 pm

To contradict the above the option with the most traction appears to be

2 Conferences
Teams from each nation to be split between Conferences

Countries with 4 teams (Wales and Ireland) to play own Conference twice, the team from their nation in the other Conference twice
and the other 5 teams once
Total of 21 games

Countries with 2 teams to play own conference twice, the other team from their nation three times and the other 6 teams once
Total of 21 games

Every team would be guaranteed 10 home games and every derby would continue

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by geoff999rugby on Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:08 pm

Interesting rumour is that when the English heard of the SA link up they approach the Pro12 about exploring the possibility of creating a B & I league.

However a couple of English chairmen, notably Weir, said only if the Pro12 became the 2nd division.
End of discussion
BT got wind and were not impressed
They saw a chance of totally carving up the club game here- already have the Premership, 18-19 will have all of Europe and this would have been the complete set.
It appears the extra money  they are spending on Europe will be recouped by paying less for the Aviva when the contract is renewed.
Premership over a bit of a barrel because Sky are nailing their mask to the new PROnn and retaining the Top14

Net affect of all this appears to be
Significantly more money into the PROnn
Less money in Europe
Less money in the Aviva (whenever the contract is up)
Sky spending less money on rugby overall (drop in Europe less than increase in PROnn)
BT intending to breakeven (up in Europe matched by drop in England)

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by Biltong on Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:20 am

The Cheetahs has always been the feeder Franchise for all the wealthier provinces in SA. Hence their lower table standings most seasons.

If they join the Pro12 and get parity in earnings with the wealthier franchises in SA they will be able to retain players and build a squad.

It should not take them long be become a top team as they have always been one of the more exciting teams in SA.
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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:15 am

He's back!

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by Biltong on Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:17 am

Just thought I would give some perspective on the Cheetahs Wink
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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:19 am

You not fancy dipping your toe into a Lions thread....?

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by Biltong on Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:41 am

Hehe no thanks
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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by marty2086 on Sat Jul 08, 2017 12:30 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
It appears the extra money  they are spending on Europe will be recouped by paying less for the Aviva when the contract is renewed.
Premership over a bit of a barrel because Sky are nailing their mask to the new PROnn and retaining the Top14

The AP deal has another 4 years to run though and BT have already significantly overspent on the league

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by geoff999rugby on Sat Jul 08, 2017 12:36 pm

Thanks I had no idea how long it had to go.
So whilst BT plans are to reduce the payment it could be a very different landscape in 4 years.

Premership have, apparently, really pissed off BT though with their arrogant attitude to a combined B & I league.
Seems they felt they had the opportunity totally squeeze Sky out of British and Irish club rugby.

The other interesting development is the possibility of an expansion into North America.
Seems the big complication is internal USA politics (in rugby not wider politics) which could muddy the waters.
Again Premership a bit spooked by the possibility of the PROnn getting a march on them.

On another matter Italy have been put on warning by the other nations
Either shape up and become competitive or you will be cut lose
Not sure which year is the deadline for this - could be 2018, 2019 or 2020

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by marty2086 on Sat Jul 08, 2017 12:39 pm

Why are the AP so keen to eliminate Sky? Was it not Sky who helped sustain them through the early stages of professionalism?

Would the complications in America have anything to do with the English being invested in US Rugby?

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by geoff999rugby on Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:42 pm

Its not the AP who wanted to squeeze Sky out of club rugby - it was BT
Should have been clearer

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by marty2086 on Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:45 pm

Surely BT would have been all over the B&I league idea then? Or was it the way the AP went about it made it hard for them to get behind it?

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by geoff999rugby on Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:22 pm

That's what I said.

BT were pissed off because the arrogant AP chairmen scuppered their chance of have a B & I league and Europe exclusively to themselves

If Weir and his mates had been half way reasonable, say a 7-5 split, in AP favour, it could have happened.
12-0 was a pig headed joke

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by No 7&1/2 on Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:53 pm

When was this?

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by geoff999rugby on Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:56 pm

As soon as the AP got wind of the Pro12 link up with SA and possibly North America

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by No 7&1/2 on Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:14 pm

This has passed me by completely.

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by geoff999rugby on Sat Jul 08, 2017 7:45 pm

It was not made public and from what I have been told it ended very quickly as both sides miles apart

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by Artful_Dodger on Sat Jul 08, 2017 7:58 pm

Southern Kings have just won away to the Bulls and thats after beating Los Jaguares in Argentina. Tell you what, I can't wait to see how they go against the better teams in the Pro14. Exciting times.

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by Biltong on Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:04 pm

Kings beat the waratahs away as well
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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by Griff on Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:11 pm

Exciting times indeed. Looking forward to it.

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by St John The Enforcer on Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:33 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:That's what I said.

BT were pissed off because the arrogant AP chairmen scuppered their chance of have a B & I league and Europe exclusively to themselves

If Weir and his mates had been half way reasonable, say a 7-5 split, in AP favour, it could have happened.
12-0 was a pig headed joke
Any chance that you mean Nigel Wray when you say Weir?

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by geoff999rugby on Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:26 pm

I do my bad Doh

I suspect Bruce Craig backed him up  - but that is a guess on my part

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by Cyril on Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:35 pm

England bad, Pro12 better, Ireland best.

Wink

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by No 7&1/2 on Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:44 pm

So a secret British and Irish league idea recently but the English were too arrogant to let it happen.

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by Exiledinborders on Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:53 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:Thanks I had no idea how long it had to go.
So whilst BT plans are to reduce the payment it could be a very different landscape in 4 years.

Premership have, apparently, really pissed off BT though with their arrogant attitude to a combined B & I league.
Seems they felt they had the opportunity totally squeeze Sky out of British and Irish club rugby.
I have rarely read so much rubbish even on these threads.

You blithely inform us of 'rumours' of BT's plans to reduce payments to the AP and then we discover your expert knowledge does not even extend to knowing the length of the current contract. My business experience tells me that BT's plans do not extend beyond four years. Four years is a long time and you have no idea whether BT or Sky will want to bid at all or on the other hand whether there will be a biddng war involving the likes of Netflix.

I take your B&I league rumours with a large does of salt but even if true, as Sky have a contract with Pro12 and BT with AP how would a combined league have squeezed out Sky? Sky could bid for the rights to any new league.

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by geoff999rugby on Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:54 pm

Cyril wrote:England bad, Pro12 better, Ireland best.

Wink

Obviously I agree with you Wink
but at the same time nothing Irish specific about the talks - it is the Pro12, Celtic countries, as one voice

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by geoff999rugby on Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:04 pm

Exiledinborders wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:Thanks I had no idea how long it had to go.
So whilst BT plans are to reduce the payment it could be a very different landscape in 4 years.

Premership have, apparently, really pissed off BT though with their arrogant attitude to a combined B & I league.
Seems they felt they had the opportunity totally squeeze Sky out of British and Irish club rugby.
I have rarely read so much rubbish even on these threads.

You blithely inform us of 'rumours' of BT's plans to reduce payments to the AP and then we discover your expert knowledge does not even extend to knowing the length of the current contract. My business experience tells me that BT's plans do not extend beyond four years. Four years is a long time and you have no idea whether BT or Sky will want to bid at all or on the other hand whether there will be a biddng war involving the likes of Netflix.

I take your B&I league rumours with a large does of salt but even if true, as Sky have a contract with Pro12 and BT with AP how would a combined league have squeezed out Sky? Sky could bid for the rights to any new league.


Your choice but I can assure you these are observation being made by people in the game not from internet rumour.

As I said BT were not impressed by the high handed attitude of the AP and senior people in the IRFU believe they intend to recoup some of the extra money they are putting into Europe from next year, when they have an exclusive contract for the games, from their other rugby sources.
Now correct me if I am wrong but their only other significant contribution to Rugby Union is the AP.
Of course those sources may have got it wrong and the reference to reduced AP money may just be wishful thinking by someone - I honestly don't know but it was said.
As I mentioned we could be looking at a very different landscape in 4 years but I cannot see where else they can reduce their investment into Rugby Union - open to suggestions


It appears the extension of the Pro12 spooked the AP but it was clear immediately there was no willingness to compromise between the parties.
Again from what I have heard it the AP were being unreasonable - you viewpoint may differ.
As I also said these talks didn't even get off the ground.

Of course much is speculative that is the nature of the beast - we have yet to get any definitive statement on any changes in the Pro12 next year - nothing certain yet.
However I thought it reasonable to post words being spoken in the game I have heard, first or second hand.

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by Cyril on Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:16 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
Cyril wrote:England bad, Pro12 better, Ireland best.

Wink

Obviously I agree with you Wink
but at the same time nothing Irish specific about the talks - it is the Pro12, Celtic countries, as one voice
Smile Yeah, but surely the Irish are leading the Welsh, Scots, Italians and Saffers into the Promised Land? They just know how to do things right (morally, financially and sportingly). Gods among men. Swoon. We caddish English could learn a thing or two etc... Perfidious Albion and all that.

Wink

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by Artful_Dodger on Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:45 pm

Cyril wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:
Cyril wrote:England bad, Pro12 better, Ireland best.

Wink

Obviously I agree with you Wink
but at the same time nothing Irish specific about the talks - it is the Pro12, Celtic countries, as one voice
Smile Yeah, but surely the Irish are leading the Welsh, Scots, Italians and Saffers into the Promised Land? They just know how to do things right (morally, financially and sportingly). Gods among men. Swoon. We caddish English could learn a thing or two etc... Perfidious Albion and all that.

Wink

Not sure which is the bigger chip, yours or the suggested Irish one Wink

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by Cyril on Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:53 pm

Artful_Dodger wrote:
Cyril wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:
Cyril wrote:England bad, Pro12 better, Ireland best.

Wink

Obviously I agree with you Wink
but at the same time nothing Irish specific about the talks - it is the Pro12, Celtic countries, as one voice
Smile Yeah, but surely the Irish are leading the Welsh, Scots, Italians and Saffers into the Promised Land? They just know how to do things right (morally, financially and sportingly). Gods among men. Swoon. We caddish English could learn a thing or two etc... Perfidious Albion and all that.

Wink

Not sure which is the bigger chip, yours or the suggested Irish one Wink
Smile Don't worry, they balance each other out. That's what keeps the British Isles in harmony Wink

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by marty2086 on Sun Jul 09, 2017 2:10 pm

The terms of the deal between BT and the AP may have already changed with Channel 5 coming on board, I doubt BT factored that into the figures when they made the deal

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by No 7&1/2 on Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:21 pm

They still show what games they want. Same money.

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by marty2086 on Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:11 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:They still show what games they want. Same money.

Except that you lose exclusivity which adds value to something and costs a premium, its why the Sky deal isn't worth more to the Pro12.

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:16 am

And get a the game out to the wider population advertising BT s contract. Granted as long as sky isn't allowed to broadcast the games which bbc etc show it will be worth less to them.

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by marty2086 on Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:25 am

So Channel 5 are going to be advertising BT?

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:29 am

Advertising the game certainly. Pick up a few casual fans and then the chance they decide to gt the whole package. You would only get the 5 games free to air which is the same as now and would need the BT channel yo get the rest. I'm not sure if these 5 are still going t shown free to air by BT, as I'm assuming they are.

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by marty2086 on Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:46 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:Advertising the game certainly. Pick up a few casual fans and then the chance they decide to gt the whole package. You would only get the 5 games free to air which is the same as now and would need the BT channel yo get the rest. I'm not sure if these 5 are still going t shown free to air by BT,  as I'm assuming they are.

There aren't any free to air games shown now, this is a new development. The only thing that's been available free to air is the highlights show on ITV.

BT have been unable to pick up the die hards never mind the casual fans, the problem isn't with people wanting to watch its with people not wanting to pay for BT while they are also paying for Sky. It may change with the ERCC moving to BT

BT as a whole though has struggled to draw viewers and have cut costs in some areas because of it

5 games a season won't make a huge difference unless Channel 5 hit the jackpot and get 5 great games to watch, they get 5 stinkers it won't do much for anyone



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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:48 am

There are free to air games already shown on BT marty. 5 a year. Viewers have increased 40 per cent over the 3 years of the BT contact so far.

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

Post by marty2086 on Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:01 am

You are right, sorry the reporting was misleading, its new to terrestrial just Doh

2014/15 was the highest rated season on BT until last season when figures had increased by 5% so not sure where you got 40% from

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Re: The Future for the PRO12 - Part 3 - The Union Balldance

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