Sponsors moot Sky rugby deal

Bass sponsorship director Paul Hughes meets Rugby League chief executive Maurice Lindsay today (Wednesday) to discuss the implications of Rupert Murdoch’s plan to create an international rugby “Super League”.

Murdoch’s ú75m deal with the Rugby League was announced on Saturday. A new 14-team structure will be created by merging some existing teams and setting up new ones in Toulouse, Paris and Cardiff.

Although rugby sponsors insist “it is too early to tell” what the marketing and sponsoprship implications will be, changes to the league’s existing commercial arrangements seem inevitable.

“The league has needed to do something radical for some time,” says Hughes, who oversees Bass’ involvement in the Stones Bitter Championship. “We’ve been looking for a step change and this is it.”

He adds: “It will affect everybody, but it is too early to call.” Other major Rugby League sponsorships include the Silk Cut Cup, Regal Trophy and John Smith Test Series.

Rugby League media manager Paul Harrison stresses further details of the new structure will be agreed “over the next few months”.

Three of the four main deals are due for renewal next season, he adds. “We will renegotiate with current sponsors but the new structure could produce more sponsorship opportunities.”

The Super League launches next March when the final British winter season ends. Its new summer format will dovetail neatly with the Premier League for which BSkyB owns exclusive live TV rights.

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