The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZR) Thursday gave the green light to a “revolutionary” plan to sell All Blacks shares to US investors, a controversial option that still needs the green light from the players to accept.
“We believe this is a truly exciting and transformative opportunity that can benefit all sport for future generations,” said Mark Robinson, President of NZR.
The agreement with the Silver Lake Partners investment fund of California won the unanimous approval of the county federations during the association’s annual general meeting in Wellington, but to be approved, it would need the approval of the Players ’Union. Some of them believe that the soul of all blacks is sold, so the veto is not excluded.
The New Zealand Federation responded positively to the California-based Silver Lake Fund proposal: $ 280 million (230 million euros) to acquire a portion of the “All Blacks” brand, that of the three-time black men. World champions who won an average of eight out of ten matches.
The episode reminds us of the utter failure in the European Football League when several prestigious clubs tried to separate from UEFA and the UEFA Champions League, in order to increase profits, according to critics, before the fans’ anger subsided.
“The clubs have sold their souls,” one of Robinson’s ancestors, David Moffett, told Radio NZ. According to him, Silver Lake, which manages a portfolio of assets worth $ 79 billion (65 billion euros), will try to pressure all blacks like lemons, even if that means getting them to play “pointless” exhibition games in the United States. .
The All Blacks is a New Zealand historical and obsession monument, an integral part of residents’ lives and a source of national pride against their rivals in Australia and South Africa.
“We will see the All Blacks playing more games without interest, which will devalue the most beautiful brand in the world of rugby,” Moffett predicts. Many fans of the All Blacks team had already interacted on the Federation page on Facebook, when the US insurer AIG announced in 2012 that it would appear on the iconic black shirts.
Silver Lake wants to buy 12.5% of the commercial rights and the right to negotiate agreements in the world to sell television rights and derivative products. This will raise the global trade value of New Zealand rugby to $ 2.2 billion (€ 1.8 billion).
It’s a huge business challenge at a time when New Zealand is in financial trouble, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, to the point that, according to Robinson, it threatens its survival. It lost more than $ 25 million (20 million euros) in 2020, according to financial results published during the General Assembly today, Thursday.
For NZR President Brent Mbey, this agreement “marks a revolutionary turning point for rugby”. Imbi estimates that it is “a unique opportunity to attract business income to enable investment in the areas that are most needed”.
‘Millions of fans’
He said the money will mainly be used to help the provincial federations in difficulty, and to develop the women’s game and youth participation. He added that technological investments would allow the New Zealander “to reach millions of fans around the world.”
The fans remained silent for the time being, leaving the players guild with fame. Especially since the potential investor is not a novice: at the end of 2019, Silver Lake acquired a 10% stake in City Football Group, which owns Manchester City Football Club.
According to documents released before the vote, part of Silver Lake’s initial investment will go to a foundation to protect New Zealand rugby interests.