Bristol Bears owner wants more from CVC after ‘disappointing’ return on Premiership investment

Bristol Bears owner wants more from CVC after ‘disappointing’ return on Premiership investment

Bristol Bears owner wants more from CVC after

Bristol Bears owner wants more from CVC after ‘disappointing’ return on Premiership investment – GETTY IMAGES

Bristol Bears owner Steve Lansdown has become the first Premier League figure to voice his disappointment at the impact on the competition by CVC Capital Partners.

A “new era for English professional club rugby” was heralded in December 2018 when it was announced that Premiership Rugby had completed a deal worth £200m for a minority stake believed to be worth around 27 per cent.

Almost four years on, however, Lansdown bemoaned the competition’s financial landscape as Wasps and Worcester Warriors appear to be in a battle for their very survival. It is said that his biggest frustrations lie in the fact that commercial income and broadcasting income have not received the boost that was initially expected.

“Well Covid has obviously been a major factor in recent times,” Lansdown told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“That has probably exacerbated the problem. There just isn’t enough money in the game, is the answer. All clubs get their income through ticket sales, central income and commercial income.

“Central revenues have been on the decline for the last few years due to Covid and lack of gaming. Matchday revenues obviously fell off a cliff with Covid and commercial revenues have not picked up.

“We had the deal with CVC, but to date it’s been, to be honest, a bit disappointing. But hopefully we’ll see it improve in the future.”

“Rugby is in a way its own worst enemy”

Lansdown, who co-founded a finance firm and is believed to be worth over £1.2bn, appeared to confirm that Bristol owe him around £50m. However, this sum has been used for infrastructure and “building a team to compete at the highest level”.

He explained that there is a plan to “reduce” his contributions over the years, but urged Premiership Rugby to increase commercial income and improve its “offer” to attract more investors.

“They are, like many businesses across the UK and around the world after the pandemic,” Lansdown said. “Rugby is in a way its own worst enemy. It’s a fabulous game. It attracts great spectators, great fans, but it’s a matter of getting the revenue into the business.

“For people to invest in it, it’s a passion. It’s not one you point at and say you’re making your money, so you have to go into it with your eyes open [knowing] that it’s going to be a bit of a black hole for a while. That is the difficulty.”

“What the PRL needs to do is really focus on commercial revenue or generating new revenue, and improve the offering that we get out there to attract other investors to the sport,” he added.

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