Sports: rugby: New Zealand federation ready to Americanize 'all blacks'

Sports: rugby: New Zealand federation ready to Americanize ‘all blacks’

The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZR) on Thursday approved a “revolutionary” plan to sell shares of the All Blacks brand to US investors, a controversial option players have yet to accept.

“We believe this is a truly exciting and transformative opportunity that can benefit the entire sport for generations to come,” said Mark Robinson, CEO of NZR.

The deal with California-based investment fund Silver Lake Partners won unanimous approval from the counties at the Wellington Association’s annual general meeting, but has yet to get the green light from the league on Thursday. However, for some of them, it is the spirit of “all blacks” that is sold and a veto is not excluded.

The New Zealand Federation has responded favorably to a proposal by the California-based Silver Lake Fund: $280 million (230 million euros) to acquire part of the All Blacks brand, that of the men in black, the triple world champions. , who won eight out of ten matches.

The episode reminds us of the fiasco in the European Football League when several prestigious clubs tried to break away from the European Football Association and the Champions League, to boost profits, say critics, before beating the retired in the face of anger from the fans.

“The clubs have sold their souls,” one of Robinson’s predecessors, David Moffett, told Radio New Zealand. Selon lui, Silver Lake, qui gre un portefeuille d’actifs de 79 milliards de dollars (65 milliards d’euros), va tenter de presser les All Blacks comme des citrons, quitte leur faire jouer des matches exhibition “dnus de sens” aux United State.

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– Set up –

However, All Blacks are a historical monument and daily obsession in New Zealand, they are an integral part of the residents’ lives, their national pride, not far from Australian and South African competitors.

“We will see the All Blacks play more boring matches which will devalue the best brand in rugby,” Moffett said. Fans of the All Blacks reacted in large numbers already, on the Federation’s Facebook page, when the American insurance company AIG announced in 2012 that it would appear on the famous black T-shirts, which for a long time remained free of any sponsor.

Silver Lake wants to buy 12.5% ​​of the commercial rights and the right to negotiate deals around the world to sell TV rights and merchandise. This would bring the total commercial value of New Zealand rugby to $2.2 billion (€1.8 billion).

The business stake is important at a time when New Zealand is going through great financial difficulties, which have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, to the point where, according to Robinson, it threatens its very survival. And it lost more than $25 million in 2020, according to the financial results released at its general meeting on Thursday.

NZR Chairman Brent Impey said the deal “represents a game-changing moment in rugby.” Mr. Mbe said this is a “unique opportunity to attract business income to enable investment in areas where it is most needed”.


– ‘Millions of fans’ –

He said the money will be used notably to help the federations in difficulty, to develop the women’s game and for youth participation. He added that investments in technology will allow NZR “to reach millions of fans around the world.”

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Fans have remained silent so far, leaving the Players Association ahead. Especially since the potential investor is not the first entrant: Silver Lake acquired a 10% stake in City Football Group, owner of Manchester City Football Club, at the end of 2019.

According to documents released before the vote, a portion of Silver Lake’s initial investment, if accepted on Thursday, will go into a foundation to protect New Zealand’s rugby interests. But according to Stuff.co.nz sports columnist Mark Rison, Silver Lake only wants to make money “by increasing the value of New Zealand rugby on paper before selling it for capital gains, as they usually do”.

France Press agency

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