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SARU and Ackerley Sports Group in talks for major investment in commercial venture


The South African Rugby Union (SARU) is currently engaged in negotiations with Ackerley Sports Group (ASG) regarding a substantial investment in SARU’s new commercial business venture.

This partnership aims to drive growth across all facets of South African rugby, bolstering the professional game and enhancing commercial revenue for both the national team and SARU.

ASG has revealed plans to invest in a commercial entity that will consolidate all current and future revenue-generating assets of SARU and the Springboks. The scope of this venture encompasses control over sponsorships, broadcast rights, partnerships, content creation, marketing initiatives and matchday revenue.

Additionally, it extends to collaborations involving South Africa’s national rugby teams – including the back-to-back World Cup-winning Springboks – and partnerships held by SARU in domestic and international competitions.

According to Sportico, the investment is estimated to be valued at US$75 million. SARU will retain majority ownership of the business entity, which is projected to have a valuation of US$375 million. ASG will hold a minority stake believed to be approximately 20 percent.

The revenue share allocated to SARU from this partnership will be directed towards supporting the operational costs associated with grassroots rugby development in South Africa, ensuring sustainability and growth at the grassroots level.

While the agreement is still pending finalisation, further negotiations and approval by SARU’s constituent members are required to move forward with the partnership.

ASG, established as a spin-off of Ackerley Partners, boasts ownership stakes in various sports teams, including the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Seattle Storm and the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Seattle Kraken. Additionally, ASG holds a minority stake in English soccer club Leeds United, stemming from its partnership with 49ers Enterprises.

“We are excited to partner with a legendary global sports franchise like the Springboks,” said Ted Ackerley, co-founder of ASG.

“Our collaboration will establish a world-wide expansion of the most iconic brand in rugby.

“This investment in the Springboks represents a unique opportunity for us to match the on-field success of the team with the resources needed to establish and sustain the franchise as a global powerhouse.

“We will bring decades of experience and passion for excellence with us while listening carefully to the people of South Africa to ensure that this team continues to reflect the history and culture of this amazing country.”

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