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Rugby union’s English club owners consider future direction of the sport | Robert Kitson


A meeting on Tuesday will consider a £275m offer for a major stake and discuss a few more ideas for progress

Rarely has professional rugby union scanned the horizon with such mixed emotions. In several parts of the world there is a sense of a sport which, financially, requires some fresh impetus to fulfil its potential. That is certainly the mood with England’s leading club owners as they meet on Tuesday to discuss the £275m bid from a private equity firm to purchase a major stake in the Premiership.

This initial offer is set to be rejected but it is just the first example of how times are changing. There will be other plans on the table soon enough, some of them outlandish, others merely contentious. Take European club rugby, for example. The Guardian understands there is a desire in certain influential quarters to reduce the number of competing sides in the Champions Cup from 20 to 16. Only the top five sides each year from the respective three European-based leagues, plus the winners of the previous season’s Challenge Cup, would earn entry. The idea is to make the competition more cut-throat and, theoretically, attractive by ensuring more big matches rather than as opposed to flooding European weekends with wall-to-wall, occasionally mediocre fixtures.

Related: CVC ownership of F1 should serve as a warning to Premiership Rugby | Giles Richards

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