Home News RFU awaiting huge financial hit from Sky Sports for fixture shake-up

RFU awaiting huge financial hit from Sky Sports for fixture shake-up

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The RFU are facing another financial hit following the cancellation of the autumn internationals amid uncertainty over the television rights deal for the ‘Eight Nations’ tournament that has been arranged to replace them.

Sportsmail has learned that the RFU’s existing broadcast partners Sky Sports will not will not automatically gain the rights to England’s matches against New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Tonga this autumn, which will be subject to a new tender process.

Sky remain the most likely broadcasters of England’s pool games — against Wales, Ireland and Fiji in November — as they have space in their schedule and deeper pockets than their rivals, but are expected to bid significantly less than the value of their existing RFU contract. 

England's matches against New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Tonga had been cancelled

England's matches against New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Tonga had been cancelled

England’s matches against New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Tonga had been cancelled

That £30m, five-year deal was negotiated at the top of a very competitive broadcast market in 2014, when Sky were desperate to keep hold of prime live rights having recently lost football’s Champions League to BT Sport, and there is a feeling within the company that they overpaid.

In addition, the hastily-arranged matches against England’s traditional Six Nations rivals do not have the same appeal as a re-run of last year’s epic World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, who have only visited Twickenham once in the last six years.

The RFU face another major financial hit following the cancellation of matches

The RFU face another major financial hit following the cancellation of matches

The RFU face another major financial hit following the cancellation of matches

A failure to bring in big money from Sky would represent another blow to the RFU, who are projected to lose around £100m this year due to Covid-19, which led them to announce plans to cut 139 jobs earlier this month.

There is also uncertainty about the number of fans who will be able to attend matches at Twickenham this autumn.

The RFU had hoped to operate at 50 per cent — around 40,000 — but, following talks with the Government, they have downgraded their ambitions to between 20,000 and 25,000.

As a result, they are expected to prioritise selling tickets to debenture holders and corporate clients, to the wrath of ordinary England fans.

World Rugby are set to ratify the new Eight Nations tournament by the end of this week — with a working title of the Nations Cup.

There is uncertainty over the number of fans who will be able to attend games at Twickenham

There is uncertainty over the number of fans who will be able to attend games at Twickenham

There is uncertainty over the number of fans who will be able to attend games at Twickenham

And Sportsmail can reveal the intended order of England’s fixtures.

They will open the competition against Fiji at Twickenham on November 14, then face Ireland the following Saturday at home. Eddie Jones’s side will conclude the group stage ‘away’ to Wales — although the match may be played in London if Government restrictions on fans in grounds are tighter over the border.

The RFU also intend, it is understood, to set up two England Women fixtures against France around the same time.

Meanwhile, new Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick says he has not negotiated a break clause to tour South Africa with the Lions in 2021 as a coach on Warren Gatland’s team.

Source:

Source: Internewscast

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