Lions had option to tour South Africa any time up to end of 2022

Dublin firm handling commercial rights for tour secured agreement from some partners

Robbie Henshaw in action for the British & Irish Lions against the South African Springboks. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Robbie Henshaw in action for the British & Irish Lions against the South African Springboks. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

 

A Dublin-based entity responsible for handling commercial rights for the British & Irish Lions rugby tour to South Africa this summer secured agreement from some of its partners that the tour could take place any time up to the end of 2022, documents just filed reveal.

Accounts for Lions Tour to South Africa DAC, a joint venture set up with the South African union to commercialise the rights of the Lions tour, state that the board had “ensured that any contracts concluded since the start of the pandemic allow the 2021 tour to take place at any time up until 30 December 2022”.

This was to allow for any delay in staging the tour due to Covid-19 related issues. At one point, the Lions considered hosting the test series in Britain and Ireland but it was later decided to press ahead with the tour to South Africa.

Its broadcasting contracts with Sky UK and SuperSport International Ltd were signed before the pandemic hit in the first quarter of 2020, and were due to expire on July 31st, 2022, according to the accounts.

No spectators

The tour took place in July, with no spectators allowed in stadiums. South Africa won the test series 2-1.

Separate accounts for a related Dublin-based company, British & Irish Lions DAC, state that it had secured 96 per cent of its target commercial revenue from the tour by July 2021.

The accounts note that Lions Tour to South Africa paid a £1 million advance last year to British & Irish Lions for the 2021 tour, and £280,852 to a subsidiary of the South Africa Rugby Union. The company had £8.3 million in cash at the year end.

Accounts for British & Irish Lions, whose chairman is former England player Jason Leonard, show the company incurred a loss of £842,158 in the year to September 2020. Its turnover amounted to £866,868 while administrative expenses came to £1.7 million.

The company employed six staff during the year with its payroll costs amounting to £839,251. It closed the year with £1.1 million in cash.

British & Irish Lions is jointly owned by the rugby unions in Ireland, England Scotland and Wales.