The economic uncertainty caused by Brexit appears to have dashed the Six Nations board’s hopes of sealing a £100 million title sponsorship deal to replace RBS.
The board had been hopeful of securing a record six-year deal for what is the world’s biggest rugby tournament after RBS ended its backing last season after 14 years.
However, despite having talked to over 100 potential sponsors, one senior source admitted: “The sponsorship market is very tough for everyone at the moment.” The source also confirmed that no deal had yet even been agreed despite there being just over three months before the start of the championship.
The Six Nations going ahead without a sponsor would not only come as a blow to its standing and the “brand activation” marketing but would hit the finances of the home unions, as the revenues are split between the participants.
The Six Nations board met and the unions are anxious that a deal is struck “as soon as possible” and it may be forced to consider a short-term deal given the tough market conditions. There is one deal on the table but it is thought to fall well short of the £16 million per season target.
The RBS deal was worth around £11 million for sponsorship of last season’s championship and John Feehan, the Six Nations chief executive, said in January he had been speaking to around 150 companies, with the hope of a deal that would raise the profile of the tournament in America and Europe.
“One option is to opt for a shorter-term deal, like Premiership Rugby, to see if the market picks up in the medium term,” another source said.