Irish rugby could lose some of its biggest stars if the current TV deal goes ahead
It seems the IRFU don't want Ireland's Six Nations games limited to terrestrial TV anymore. Communications Minister Alex White has previously stated that he wants the matches to be free-to-air in Ireland but that seems to be at odds with the rugby administrators.
In a post on the IRFU website, they have outlined five areas that will be adversely impacted if the union is deprived of the additional revenue that could come with selling the Six Nations rights to the highest bidder. As it stands, RTÉ pays €2.5 million for the rights, which is down from the previous figure of €3.5 million, according to the IRFU.
They say that they are set to lose out on €12.5 million as a result and this could be the fallout:
- An inability to keep the top Irish players in Ireland
- A reduction in the number of professional players and teams in Ireland
- An inability to attract the best coaching talent to Ireland
- A reduction in investment in provincial infrastructure resulting in teams being unable to remain competitive in the PRO12 and in European competitions
- A reduction in funding in the grassroots game which affects the next generation of international stars from coming through
That is a pretty bleak picture, but were the rights to go on the open market, it is unlikely that RTÉ could match the big English channels and their mammoth war chests (any excuse to get that phrase in).
The IRFU have also kindly written out a submission to the government outlining why you DON'T want them to designate Six Nations games as free-to-air. All you have to do is type your name into it, hit send and your voice will be heard.
Would fans want Six Nations games to be shown on BT or Sky if it meant the national team and the provinces were more competitive?