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BT Sport rugby sponsorship plans involve new deals with Welsh and Irish regions

Although Rugby Union’s major clubs are in dispute over the future of European rugby, BT Sport has extended its influence in the sport by negotiating new sponsorship deals with Welsh and Irish teams. BT already sponsors Glasgow and Edinburgh in the RaboDirect Pro12 but they are looking to expand as they said in a statement: “BT is keen to have positive relationships with Welsh, Scottish and Irish regions so it’s no surprise that we are reaching out to them.”

The new sponsorship deals are being put in place to help BT in their battle with Sky. They have recently negotiated a big money deal for the UEFA Champions League which will take it from Sky Sports and ITV for at least three years, and they’ll love the idea of their name emblazoned on the shirts of players taking part in the RaboDirect Pro12 which Sky televise.

“Rugby is at the heart of BT Sport. We plan to build on the successful start we have made,” the firm’s statement continued. The future of European rugby is up in the end and so is the future of the sport in Wales. The clubs have until 31st December to agree and sign the new participation agreement with the Welsh Rugby Union board. They have been advised by lawyers not to sign the contract and according to reports they’re exploring ways to become involved with the Aviva Premiership. The regions are unhappy because under the new agreement they’ll be worse off than now as funds from the RaboDirect Pro12 and the new European tournament won’t match the revenue they current get.

Rumours suggest that part of BT’s deal with the Welsh clubs is reliant on the calibre of players participating in Wales next season. At the moment, prominent players like Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton haven’t yet agreed deals with their regions because the future’s so unclear for Welsh sides.

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