BT Sport and Irish provinces ‘in sponsorship talks’
TV company also wants to add Welsh sides to portfolio
BT Sport already sponsor Scottish sides Edinburgh (pictured) and Glasgow. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA
BT Sport is reportedly in advanced sponsorship negotiations with the Irish provinces and the Welsh regions.
The company already back Scottish teams Edinburgh and Glasgow through shirt sponsorship and they are now said to be targeting all four Irish provinces as well as Welsh sides Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Newport Gwent Dragons, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
“Rugby is at the heart of BT Sport, and so we talk to people all the time,” a BT Sport spokesperson told Press Association Sport.
“We have helped to raise the profile of the club game in England by showing three live matches at weekends, and we plan to build on the successful start we have made.”
BT Sport’s fierce rivals Sky will broadcast live RaboDirect Pro12 games for the first time from next season, while BT Sport recently outbid Sky by landing a three-year £900 million deal to screen Uefa Champions League games.
And BT Sport’s reported interest in expanding their rugby portfolio comes with the future of European Cup rugby for next season still shrouded by uncertainty.
Talks between the six nations comprising top-level European rugby took place in Dublin on Friday, with further discussions planned for next month.
At the moment, England’s 12 Premiership clubs will not play in European competition from next season after refusing to negotiate with European Rugby Cup. Premiership Rugby began serving a two-year notice period to quit ERC in June 2012.
Premiership Rugby have also seen their attempts to form a breakaway Rugby Champions Cup dashed, at least for the time being, and English clubs could face a season without European rugby next term, although there has also been intense speculation about a new Anglo-Welsh league being formed.