The Guinness PRO14 is preparing to return to action in late August with major new investment behind it.
The Irish Rugby Football Union has outlined plans to resume the 2019-20 season – which has eight rounds of regular fixtures remaining – with derby matches on the weekend of August 22-23.
The PRO14 board earlier confirmed that London-based private equity firm CVC had purchased a 28 per cent share in the league in a deal that will provide funds for the Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Italian unions.
The IRFU confirmed it would receive an initial £5million and six times that amount in total over the next three years.
— PRO14 RUGBY (at 🏡) (@PRO14Official) May 22, 2020
PRO14 chief executive Martin Anayi said: “CVC’s show of faith has been impressive and is in keeping with their proven track record of success when it comes to sports investment, including Formula 1, Moto GP and Premiership Rugby.
“We have been clear that we believe the Guinness PRO14 is a world-class club league, that is still in its growth phase and we are confident that it will become a major standard bearer in our sport.
“We are excited that CVC clearly shares that ambition and we look forward to working with them to deliver on the league’s promise in the years ahead.”
IRFU ‘Return to Train & Play’ proposals have been submitted to Government and, based on this phased roadmap, the 22nd/23rd August has been set for the targeted resumption of #GuinnessPRO14 derby fixtures involving the 4 provinces.https://t.co/Uv8BuZb2dT
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) May 22, 2020
The Irish union has submitted plans to its government over safety protocols for two all-Irish PRO14 matches in Dublin on the same weekend.
Chief executive Philip Browne said on the Irish Rugby website: “Our documents are now with the Government and I would like to acknowledge the cooperation and support we have received from the Government and its agencies, in particular Sport Ireland and The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.
“Based on these protocols, we have set target dates of 22nd and 23rd August for a return to play with the staging of Guinness PRO14 derby fixtures between the provinces at the Aviva Stadium behind closed doors, as part of the completion of the Guinness PRO14 2019/20 season.
“In these times these matches are not just rugby fixtures, they are a beacon of hope for the entire country.”