British & Irish Lions To Maximize Brand When Talks Over Future Tours Begin
The British & Irish Lions jersey "is the best-selling shirt in world rugby and they aim to maximise the brand when talks begin over future tours," according to Paul Rees of the London GUARDIAN. At a Lions function thrown by the Australian Rugby Union on Friday night, the hosts "thanked the tourists for giving the game here a badly needed stimulus." TV audiences "have hit a 10-year high and Network Ten has cashed in." It paid A$2.5M ($2.3M) and has generated $8M in advertising revenue. Lions Chair Gerald Davies said, "The Lions are special. There is no other tour like it in the professional era and there will have been worldwide interest in the final Test." The current agreement with the Sanzar nations "runs out after the New Zealand tour and negotiations will begin next year on a new one which promises to be markedly different because of the explosion of interest in the Lions." Davies said, "We will start with a clean sheet of paper. Everything will be up for discussion, from the financial side to scheduling, itineraries, the strength of opposition in warm-up matches and the number of matches played." The Lions "have become such a significant commercial brand that the huge profits from this tour will sustain the ARU for years." Davies said, "The Lions are about far more than money. There are four strands: sporting, financial, social and cultural" (GUARDIAN, 7/6).