NRL urged to secure private equity investment

The issue of private equity investment in the NRL has raised its head again, according to an article in today’s ‘The Australian’ newspaper.

The NRL has previously decided not to go down the route of securing private equity investment, following an inquiry by the Australian Rugby League Commission into the advantages and problems associated with raising money in this way.

But according to The Australian, a well known Australian sports advisory group –  Oakwell Sports Advisory – is urging the NRL to reconsider its decision.

Oakwell’s partner Andrew Umbers has written to five of the game’s leading clubs, warning them that they are missing out on a lucrative opportunity and asking them to put pressure on the ARL Commission.

The five clubs are reported as being Sydney Roosters, South Sydney, Melbourne, Penrith and Brisbane.

Under the previous plan put to the NRL, it would have sold as much as 20 per cent of the competition to private equity investors for up to $600 million, which would then have been split between the NRL and the clubs.

There was a suggestion that the NRL could then use the money to build or purchase its own stadium or even buy a stake in the European Super League.

ARL Commission Chair Peter V’landys and his fellow commissioner Gary Weiss reviewed the proposal, however, and they are thought to have rejected it.

The matter had gone quiet until an email lobbed in the inboxes of some of the game’s heaviest hitters on Monday night.

The Australian suggested that the email gave details of the deal between CVC Capital Partners and rugby union’s Six Nations, which is believed to be worth $500 million for a one-seventh share in the competition, and which was apparently brokered by Oakwell.

Umbers also reportedly helped put together the CVC investment in the English rugby union Premiership.

He claimed that Super League is in a precarious position, while Oakwell had “large and credible” businesses interested in investing in the NRL

At the recent ARLC annual general meeting the clubs were told that there was nothing happening in relation to private equity.

Last year, after the initial outbreak, there were initial fears that could take a devastating hit from COVID, but the ARL Commission has emerged in a strong financial position, reducing the need for private equity.