Irish Rugby Football Union Seeking New Sponsor After Puma Buys Out Of $52M Deal
The Irish Rugby Football Union "should have a new kit sponsor on board by the end of the summer," according to Barry Coughlan of the IRISH EXAMINER. Puma has bought out of its reported €40M ($52M) contract with the Union -- which was to run up to '17 -- and "paid a once-off compensation payment" of €11.5M ($15M). It was described only as an “exceptional item” in the accounts released Friday. IRFU CEO Philip Browne confirmed negotiations "have been ongoing with other high profile kit providers and said he expected a deal would be firmed up within weeks." That "will surely come as good news to the Union," which will be forced to borrow up to €25M ($33M) to fund day-to-day activities in the lead-up to the release of premium ten year ticket packages in '20, "following a lukewarm reception to a recent offering" which yielded just €14M ($18M) instead of a hoped for €40M ($53M). Browne: "The market has spoken, we are running a cash deficit each year and so for the next six years until the point where we sell the next block of premium seats we’re going to have to borrow to cover that annual cash deficit" (IRISH EXAMINER, 7/20).
FUNDING CUTS: In Dublin, Gavin Cummiskey reported Browne "also confirmed the funding of all professional squads will need to be reduced." Browne: "We will all have to tighten our belts, but we are going to continue to operate at the levels we are at. We will continue to fund four professional teams and the national team and the domestic game." This "all came as a surprise to the union." They had "consulted 10-year ticket holders." Brown: "I think everybody is surprised we didn’t sell as many as we hoped but that’s the nature of the economy" (IRISH TIMES, 7/20).