There are conflicting reports this morning over the delicate final negotiations between Six Nations Rugby and potential investor CVC.
The Irish Times is reporting that the original offer of around €300 million could be halved in response to the pandemic disruption with the Financial Times is suggesting that the same figure is still in play but that major caveats will be installed to the contract to protect against further disruption.
Neither side is making public comment which is only right as crunch talks continue.
French Rugby President Bernard Laporte may have jumped the gun two weeks ago when playing to his AGM audience by suggesting a deal was pretty much over the line.
There is a phrase in negotiation which says that nothing is final until everything is final and the shifting ground of the pandemic and its resurgence in different locations around the world makes ‘final’ seem very aspirational.
That said the clock is ticking on the need to open negotiation around the broadcast rights for the tournament after next March.
We wrote last week about the likelihood of that meaning a journey behind a paywall for Rugby’s primary annual tournament, just as has been the case with the Heineken Champions Cup and the Guinness PRO14 Championship.
CVC’s investment in the latter has completed and saw a 28 per cent stake taken up and a windfall for each of the Unions involved. They also own a slightly smaller stake in English Premiership Rugby.
Having come this far into the sport, Six Nations management may feel that they are now so invested that they will stay at the table albeit with different terms than were envisaged when the deal was first mooted.
The financiers though will be looking at their position as one of greater strength brought about through greater risk.
Most sports fans will be more interested in getting the games back into stadia and onto TV.
The longer game though will be equally tricky to navigate and with finance at a premium, it may yet prove to be a deal that will have bigger implications for the sport than could have originally been imagined.
Image Credit: James Crombie, Inpho.ie