Six Nations Will Reportedly Be Forced To Accept Less Lucrative Sponsorship Deal
Organizers of the Six Nations Championship "have been forced into an embarrassing climbdown" by having to negotiate a sponsorship deal worth £4M ($5.3M) a year less than they were "initially offered" after their approach to 150 companies for a £100M ($132.6M) agreement over six years "drew a blank," according to Mark Souster of the LONDON TIMES. Organizers reportedly rejected a £15M ($19.9M)-a-year offer from RBS, which has sponsored the tournament for the past 14 years, "in the belief that they could strike a more lucrative deal elsewhere." However, a year of negotiations with potential top-line sponsors "have proved fruitless and the Six Nations has had little choice but to go back to the bank and try to secure a deal." As "the only player left in the market, RBS has played hardball" and when negotiations reopened, it offered £9M ($11.9M) a year. That figure "is understood to have now risen" to about £11M ($14.6M). The organizers' hopes of "securing a last-minute alternative sponsor appear unlikely." The Six Nations reportedly received an offer of £100M from HSBC, "but the bid was turned down because it was for the combined rights" to both the tournament and the British & Irish Lions. It is an "embarrassing state of affairs" for the Six Nations, whose CEO, John Feehan, said in January that he "felt confident of finding a company" willing to pay £17M ($22.6M) or more per year (LONDON TIMES, 10/12).